The circumstances of Liu’s death drew commiseration from around the world. However, the response from the leader of the United States was comparatively muted. The White House released a short statement Thursday that said President Trump was “deeply saddened” by the news of Liu’s death, noting that he was a “poet, scholar and courageous advocate” who had “dedicated his life to the pursuit of democracy and liberty.”
Many activists said that the White House statement was undercut by comments Trump himself made earlier in the day. The president had been holding a news conference in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron when a reporter asked him what he thought personally of Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.
“Well, he’s a friend of mine,” Trump responded. “I have great respect for him. We’ve gotten to know each other very well. A great leader. He’s a very talented man. I think he’s a very good man. He loves China, I can tell you. He loves China. He wants to do what’s right for China.”