The Chinese Communist Party has been accused of “genocide and crimes against humanity” in its suppression of Uighur Muslims.
In a final farewell shot before leaving the White House, the Trump administration clearly called on the CCP in its attempts to “destroy” the ethnic group in the Xinjiang area.
It is believed that around one million Muslims with Kazakh and Uighur backgrounds are imprisoned there against their will by the state. The government insists on calling it “vocational training centers”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today proclaimed the CCP and dealt an embarrassing blow to Beijing the day before US President-elect Joe Biden took office.
Pompeo called after looking at “extensive documentation of (China’s) own policies, practices and ill-treatment in Xinjiang,” which led him to determine that the ruthless crackdown had continued since March 2017.
“After carefully examining the available facts, I have found that the PRC (People’s Republic of China), under the leadership and control of the CCP, has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang.” Pompeo said in a statement.
“I believe this genocide is ongoing and we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy UIghurs by the Chinese party state,” he added.
China has been widely condemned for complexes in Xinjiang purported to eradicate extremism and teach people new skills, but which others have labeled concentration camps.
Beijing denies allegations of abuse.
Reports of mass detention and ethnically targeted government surveillance have emerged from the tightly controlled region in recent years.
In October last year, Omir Bekali, who claims his hands were broken by hammers and his back had been peeled with an iron whip while in custody, accused the authority of ethnic cleansing in an interview with The Mirror.
Last summer, a drone video was broadcast online showing hundreds of Uyghur Muslims handcuffed, blindfolded and on their knees waiting to be pushed onto trains in Xinjiang Province.
When challenged over the footage, Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming said the UK had “poisoned” relations with China and was “paying the price”.
Today’s rare decision follows an intense internal debate after Congress passed a law on December 27, requiring the government to determine within 90 days whether forced labor or other alleged crimes against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are crimes against humanity are genocide.
“This is a decision we are not taking lightly,” a US official told reporters.
“It went through a lot of processes and analyzes.
“The Secretary, in his role, has decided that this is the tool we need to use at this time to move this vital cause forward.”
The US decision does not automatically result in penalties, but means that countries need to think carefully about whether companies can do business with Xinjiang, a leading global cotton supplier.
Last week the United States banned all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang.
Biden’s campaign declared ahead of the November 3rd US election that genocide had taken place in China’s western Xinjiang region.
A week ago, the UK government said that companies doing business in China will be fined if they cannot prove their products are associated with forced labor in Xinjiang.
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said that MPs’ exports are being monitored to ensure that no goods are used in warehouses where Uyghurs are minority groups.