President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to link a trade deal with Beijing to the "humane" resolution of a standoff with Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters while seeming to suggest a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
"Millions of jobs are being lost in China to other non-Tariffed countries. Thousands of companies are leaving. Of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
Washington and Beijing have imposed tariffs on $360 billion in two-way trade, but Trump has delayed tariffs on electronic goods from China, giving investors hope for a detente in the trade conflict.
The US president later returned to the subject of Hong Kong, where protesters have staged 10 weeks of relentless protests to demand greater freedoms, including rallies that paralysed the semi-autonomous city's airport, one of the world's busiest travel hubs.
"I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it," Trump tweeted.
"Personal meeting?" he added, in what appeared to be an offer to Xi to help resolve the Hong Kong crisis.
The United States has said it is "deeply concerned" over Chinese security force movements on the border with Hong Kong and urged Beijing to honour the territory's autonomy.
Under the terms of Hong Kong's return to China from British colonial rule, the city is meant to have far greater liberties than those allowed on the mainland.