On the last full day of the Trump administration, the U.S. became the first nation to determine China’s abuse of its Muslim Uyghur minority amounts to “genocide.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement Tuesday.
“I have determined that the People’s Republic of China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China, targeting Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups,” he wrote on Twitter.
“These acts are an affront to the Chinese people and to civilized nations everywhere. The People’s Republic of China and the CCP must be held to account,” he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.
In a statement, Pompeo said that after “careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that since at least March 2017, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has committed crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”
The second determination, he said, was that the Communist Party also has committed “genocide.”
Pompeo said the crimes, which are “ongoing,” include:
- Arbitrary imprisonment of over 1 million people;
- Forced sterilization;
- Torture of those detained;
- Forced labor;
- And restrictions on religious freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of movement.
The determination came after an internal review last year ordered by Pompeo that was spearheaded by Morse Tan, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for the Office of Global Criminal Justice.
A senior administration official said the determination would have been made soon if it were possible.
“We have been working on this for years now. We have struggled from day one, since we came to see the contours of what is going on in Xinjiang, with what to call it,” the official said, according to Axios.
An estimated 11 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups live in China’s northwest Xinjiang province.
In 2009, hundreds died in riots in the regional capital Urumqi in response to a Communist Party crackdown after some Uyghurs joined ISIS.
The construction of the infamous mass detention centers capable of holding up to 1 million detainees began in 2017. Survivors reported enduring political indoctrination and physical abuse.
Amid evidence of mass forced labor, the U.S. banned the import of cotton and tomato products made in Xinjiang and put complicit Chinese companies on an export blacklist.
Last June, the Associated Press reported the Chinese government was “taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.”
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