A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson has called outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a “doomsday clown” and said his designation of China as a perpetrator of genocide and crimes against humanity was merely “a piece of wastepaper”.
- The spokesperson said the incoming Biden administration “should view China rationally and objectively”
- China has denied claims that Uyghurs are being imprisoned en masse and subjected to torture, sterilisation and political indoctrination
- China says its policies in Xinjiang aim only to promote economic growth and social stability.
The allegations of abuses against Muslim minority groups such as the Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region are “outright sensational pseudo-propositions and a malicious farce concocted by individual anti-China and anti-Communist forces represented by Pompeo”, spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily briefing on Wednesday.
“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.”
Mr Pompeo’s announcement on Tuesday does not require any immediate actions, although the US must take the designation into account in formulating policy toward China.
China says its policies in Xinjiang aim only to promote economic growth and social stability.
Biden administration should ‘view China rationally and objectively’
US President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign declared, before the November presidential election, that genocide was occurring in China’s western Xinjiang region.
A spokesman for Mr Biden’s transition team declined to comment on a possible genocide determination before the new administration took office this week.
Ms Hua said over the past four years the Trump administration had meddled in China’s internal affairs and “done its best to suppress, smear, and discredit China” causing “serious damage to the US-China relationship”.
“I think this situation is not in the interest of the people of China and the United States, nor is it the wish of people of insight, including the ordinary American people, who want to see the healthy and stable development of China-US relations,” she said.
“I hope China and the US could meet each other halfway in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, to promote [the] China-US relationship, and to make the China-US relationship back to a healthy and stable track as soon as possible.”
‘Genocide’ designation the latest of a series of US measures
The US has previously spoken out and taken action on Xinjiang, implementing a range of sanctions against senior Chinese Communist Party leaders and state-run enterprises that fund repressive policies in the vast, resource-rich region.
Last week, the Trump administration announced it would halt imports of cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang, with Customs and Border Protection officials saying they would block products from there suspected of being produced with forced labour.
Many of the Chinese officials accused of having taken part in repression are already under US sanctions. The “genocide” designation means new measures will be easier to impose.
Tuesday’s move is the latest in a series of steps the outgoing Trump administration has taken to ramp up pressure on China over issues ranging from human rights and the coronavirus pandemic to Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.
China has responded with its own sanctions and tough rhetoric towards the US.
According to US officials and human rights groups China has imprisoned more than 1 million people, including Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups, in a vast network of prison-like political indoctrination camps.
People have allegedly been subjected to torture, sterilisation and political indoctrination in addition to forced labour as part of an assimilation campaign in a region whose inhabitants are ethnically and culturally distinct from the Han Chinese majority.
Media organisations have reported on widespread forced birth control among the Uyghurs in 2020, including the mass sterilisation of Muslim women, even while family planning restrictions are loosened on members of China’s dominant Han ethnic group.
China has denied all the charges, but Uyghur forced labour has been linked by media reporting to various products imported to the US, including clothing and electronic goods such as cameras and computer monitors.
Responding to a question about China’s treatment of Uyghurs, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was up to the courts to determine cases of genocide.
Academic says pressure on China working
James Leibold, a specialist in Chinese ethnic policy at La Trobe University in Melbourne, said international pressure appeared to have had some effect on Chinese policies in Xinjiang, particularly in prompting the Government to release information about the camps and possibly reducing mass detentions.
“So hopefully we’ll see a continued continuity with regards to the new [Joe Biden] administration on holding China to account,” Mr Leibold said.
“And hopefully the Biden administration can bring its allies along to continue to put pressure on the Chinese Government,” he said.
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