Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden seem to have found at least one thing on which they can agree: both leaders think the government of China has committed genocide against members of the Uighur minority group, according to a report from Fox News.
On Trump’s last full day in office, his secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, issued a statement of determination that clearly stated the administration’s view that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had been engaging in genocide against Uighurs.
“After careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that the PRC, under the direction and control of the CCP, has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” Pompeo’s statement read. “I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state,” Pompeo added.
When Pompeo’s likely successor in the Biden administration, Antony Blinken, was asked whether he agreed with Pompeo during a Senate confirmation hearing, he answered in the affirmative. “That would be my judgment as well,” Blinken said, according to Fox. “Forcing men, women, and children into concentration camps, trying to in effect re-educate them to be adherents to the Chinese Communist Party — all of that speaks to an effort to commit genocide.”
The State Department had determined that since at least March 2017, the CCP has been restricting Uighurs’ travel, schooling, and rights of assembly and worship. In addition, Uighur women have been subjected to forced sterilizations and abortions, and Uighur children have been separated from their families, the State Department said.
“The governing authorities of the second most economically, militarily, and politically powerful country on earth have made clear that they are engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group, even as they simultaneously assert their country as a global leader and attempt to remold the international system in their image,” Pompeo’s Jan. 19 statement read.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki sidestepped a question about Biden’s stance on the issue Friday, but referred to previous comments from the Democrat calling China’s treatment of the Uighurs “horrific,” according to Fox.
Biden’s campaign also signaled agreement with the Trump White House position in August, saying: “The unspeakable oppression that Uighurs and other ethnic minorities have suffered at the hands of China’s authoritarian government is genocide and Joe Biden stands against it in the strongest terms.”
Other Biden cabinet selections including Treasury Secretary designee Janet Yellen also denounced China over the treatment of Uighurs and other minority groups, Fox noted.
China responds – but will Biden?
A spokesperson at the Chinese embassy, for its part, has called the accusations from U.S. officials “a gross interference in China’s internal affairs and a serious violation of international law.”
The embassy also tried to say that the CCP’s actions “are not about ethnicity, religion, or human rights, but about anti-violence, anti-terrorism, anti-separatism, and de-radicalization.”
While Biden and his administration may not approve of China’s alleged genocide, the Democrat has been perceived by some as being cozier with the country than Trump. It remains to be seen whether he will take any action against the communist nation for its treatment of Uighurs and other minority groups there.