US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that China has committed genocide in its repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang and other Muslim populations. On the other hand, Anthony Blinken, Biden’s choice for the top office, said that he agrees with Pompeo’s assessment of the situation.
Over the past few years, the international rights groups have maintained that Beijing has detained more than one million Uighurs in what Chinese officials describe as the “re-education camps”. Besides, BBC claimed that the officials in the camps are using the detainees as forced labor. From coronavirus outbreak to trade deals, escalating tensions with China has been a key feature of his foreign policy during his four years in office.
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On his last day in the office, the outgoing State Secretary said, “I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state.” Even though these remarks put immense pressure on Beijing, no new penalties were introduced. Separately, when Blinken was asked during his confirmation hearing that whether he agreed with Pompeo’s analysis, and he agreed.
Last August, Biden’s team made similar comments and stated that Uighurs had suffered immense repression from the Chinese regime, which is now re-educating them to be followers of the Communist Party’s ideology. Meanwhile, China has maintained that the camps aim to fight three “evils,” including separatism, terrorism, and extremism.
The nation’s far western region, Xinjiang, has seen a significant influx of ethnic Han majority in recent years. Since the 1990s, the separatist and anti-Han sentiment has prevailed in the region, sometimes leading to violence. International rights campaigners have alleged that by forcing the Muslim population to eat pork, Beijing is trying to erase the Uighur culture.
Last week, Washington banned the import of tomato and cotton products from Xinjiang, which accounts for almost a fifth of global cotton production. Only recently, there also have been allegations of forcibly subjecting Uighurs female to methods of birth control. However, Beijing categorically denied these accusations.
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