The Trump administration has determined that China has committed “genocide and crimes against humanity” by repressing Uighur Muslims in its Xinjiang region, Trump Administration said on Tuesday.
The statement by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the final hours of Trump in office came as an embarrassing blow to Beijing.
Pompeo said he made the move, which is certain to further strain already frayed ties between the world’s top economies, “after careful examination of the available facts,” accusing the Chinese Communist Party of crimes against humanity targeting the Uighurs.
“I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state,” Pompeo said in a statement.
China has been widely condemned for its complexes in Xinjiang, which it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism. It denies accusations of abuse.
The rare American determination follows intensive internal debate after Congress passed legislation on December 27 requiring the US administration to determine within 90 days whether China had committed crimes against humanity or a genocide.
US ‘will keep up pressure‘
Pompeo’s vociferous criticism of Beijing has been a hallmark of his tenure but he had earlier danced around directly alleging genocide, saying repeatedly that the treatment of Uighurs was reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s policies.
He urged all international bodies including courts to take up cases over China’s treatment of the Uighurs and voiced confidence that the US would keep raising pressure.
Rights groups believe that at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims are incarcerated in camps in the western region of Xinjiang.
Witnesses and activists say that China is seeking to forcibly integrate the Uighurs into the majority Han culture by eradicating Islamic customs, including by forcing Muslims to eat pork and drink alcohol, which are both forbidden by their faith.
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China denies wrongdoing and contends that its camps are vocational training centers meant to reduce the allure of Islamic extremism in the wake of attacks.