The US State Department has declared that China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity in a campaign targeting Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
In a statement, outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state.”
The designation was made in the dying hours of the Trump administration. But the incoming
Biden team had previously voiced its support for such a definition, labelling the repression of Uighurs genocide in August last year.
And although Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has pledged to reverse a host of Mr Trump’s foreign policy measures, he said that he agreed with Mr Pompeo’s determination.
In his determination of crimes against humanity, Mr Pompeo cited “the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilisation, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labour, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement”.
Beijing is likely to react furiously.
At a press conference held last week in the Chinese capital, Communist Part official Xu Guixiang said: “This utterly untethered fabrication of ‘genocide’ regarding Xinjiang is the conspiracy of the century.”