On his last day in office, outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a declaration stating that the Chinese government is guilty of genocide against the Uyghur people. If widely accepted allegations are true, the Chinese government’s actions certainly fit the definition of genocide.
The Trump administration has had a largely hostile relationship with China throughout its tenure and that did not change on the administration’s final day. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared China guilty of genocide and called on other nations to join in opposing China’s treatment of the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities. China’s actions do fit the U.N. definition of genocide as they systematically target the Uyghur people. The United States is the first nation to formally declare China guilty of genocide, which China denies.
In a press statement Pompeo said, “For the past four years, this Administration has exposed the nature of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] and called it what it is: a Marxist-Leninist regime that exerts power over the long-suffering Chinese people through brainwashing and brute force.”
Pompeo said that while the CCP has exhibited “a profound hostility to all people of faith,” the administration has been alarmed at the CCP’s “increasingly repressive treatment of the Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups.”
The Secretary claimed:
“Their morally repugnant, wholesale policies, practices, and abuses are designed systematically to discriminate against and surveil ethnic Uyghurs as a unique demographic and ethnic group, restrict their freedom to travel, emigrate, and attend schools, and deny other basic human rights of assembly, speech, and worship. PRC authorities have conducted forced sterilizations and abortions on Uyghur women, coerced them to marry non-Uyghurs, and separated Uyghur children from their families.”
Pompeo added that the Chinese government has engaged in the “arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians.” He also claimed,
“Party apparatchiks have denied international observers unhindered access to Xinjiang and denounced reliable reports about the worsening situation on the ground, instead spinning fanciful tales of happy Uyghurs participating in educational, counter-terror, women’s empowerment, and poverty alleviation projects.”
When thinking of genocide, one typically pictures the Holocaust, wherein the Nazis not only detained but murdered millions of Jews and members of other “undesirable” groups. The term “genocide” was formed in response to the attempt to systematically eliminate the Jewish people. However, genocide is not restricted to murdering a group of people. The U.N. legal definition of genocide is as follows:
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such:
In order for an act to be genocide, the intent behind it must be to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.
By forcing Uyghur women to marry non-Uyghur men, forcing them to have abortions, and engaging in forced sterilization, China’s activities would qualify as genocide.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying responded by saying,
“In our view, Pompeo’s so-called designation is a piece of wastepaper. This American politician, who is notorious for lying and deceiving, is turning himself into a doomsday clown and joke of the century with his last madness and lies of the century.”
China also claims the allegations are “outright sensational pseudo-propositions and a malicious farce concocted by individual anti-China and anti-Communist forces represented by Pompeo.”
While many Democrats and Republicans agree on this issue — Joe Biden also referred to China’s actions against the Uyghurs as “genocide” during the 2020 campaign — some are still critical of Pompeo’s decision. “I agree with this in principle. But why wait till last day?” said Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Sounds like Pompeo wants credit for calling out genocide, while punting to Biden the responsibility to build international consensus and figure out the immense consequences.”
China denies the allegations, but the United States is not the only nation concerned about China’s activities. British foreign secretary Dominic Raab claimed that China is guilty of “extensive and invasive surveillance targeting minorities, systematic restrictions on Uighur culture, education, and the practice of Islam, and the widespread use of forced labor.”
How America’s relationship with China changes under the Biden administration remains to be seen. However, Biden’s choice for Secretary of State Antony Blinken applauded the Trump administration’s decision to take a hard stance with China and when asked if he agreed with Pompeo’s genocide declaration he answered, “That would be my judgment as well.”
China, like other Communist nations, has waged war against religious groups in general, including Christians, seeking to convert them to the worship of the state. Their restrictions on religious freedom have earned them the No. 1 spot on a Pew Research study’s list of the most religiously restrictive nations.
As Pompeo and Raab both pointed out, China has refused to allow unhindered access to investigate claims of genocide. If Pompeo’s allegations are “waste paper” then the Chinese should have no problem allowing the international community to investigate their activities regarding the Uyghur people.
Pompeo’s declaration of genocide is an important step in ensuring that these atrocities do not continue. Raab offered a chilling report on China’s activities, saying, “The nature and conditions of detention violate basic standards of human rights and, at their worst, amount to torture. Internment camps, arbitrary detention, political re-education, forced labor, torture, forced sterilization. All on an industrial scale. It is truly horrific. Barbarism we all hoped was lost to another era.”
If this is true, which by all reports it is, the international community must work together to put a stop to it.