The White House acknowledges an ongoing genocide against the Uyghur Muslims by the Chinese Communist Party, ending days of stubborn resistance by the State Department to say such an atrocity is happening in the present tense.
The concession by President Biden’s team, which is sure to have significant geopolitical implications, realigns its view to match that of the Trump administration in the latter’s final day in power, when then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a bulletin that he believed there was an ” ongoing” genocide against the estimated 1 million to 2 million Uyghurs and other religious minorities in Xinjiang in western China, where they have been placed in detention centers across the region.
It also comes one day after the release of a first-of-its-kind legal analysis by the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, a think tank located in Washington, D.C., which determined the Chinese government breached ” each and every act prohibited” by the United Nations Genocide Convention in its treatment of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
“President Biden spoke with President Xi on February 10, and part of that conversation was making clear our strong concerns about human rights abuses in Xinjiang,” a White House spokesperson told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday evening. “The crimes against humanity and genocide that have been and continue to be inflicted on the Uyghurs cannot be ignored, and must be met with serious consequences.”Recommended For You
“Our China policy is predicated on our core sources of strength, including our values and our ability to work in harmony with like-minded partners and allies. We work with these partners, bilaterally and in multilateral fora, to determine how we can impose costs on China together and ensure that these atrocities stop,” the White House spokesperson added.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged China had committed genocide in sworn testimony as a nominee for the top diplomat role, but there had been an air of mystery over whether the Biden administration itself would take that stance about the present situation in the western province, as Blinken’s team, once he was confirmed, danced around reporters’ asking if they would acknowledge an “ongoing genocide in China,” instead only allowing that a genocide “was” committed against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
A small difference in wording, perhaps, but one that Republicans picked up on as they argue that the Biden administration has been too soft on China.
“The Chinese Communist Party is engaged in an ongoing genocide against the Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday. “The Biden administration is rushing to embrace China, and I am deeply worried that their refusal to explicitly acknowledge and condemn the ongoing genocide is part of that embrace.”
Although Chinese officials have denied charges of there being a genocide and defended their “vocational education and training centers” as efforts to combat terrorism, Uyghur survivors have described being insulted, beaten, abused, and raped by guards for their religious beliefs.
“It’s important to speak up and speak out and to make sure that other countries are doing the same thing. The more that China hears not just our opprobrium but a chorus of opprobrium from around the world, the better the chance that we’ll get some chances,” Blinken said during a Wednesday hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We’ve been clear, and I’ve been clear, that I see it as genocide, other egregious abuses of human rights, and we’ll continue to make that clear,” Blinken said later in his testimony, adding that if China had nothing to hide, then it should allow international access to Xinjiang.