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World Pompeo's Xinjiang 'genocide' declaration presents Biden with an early China challenge

07:55  22 january  2021
07:55  22 january  2021 Source:   cnn.com

Trump administration bans imports of cotton and tomatoes from China’s Xinjiang region, citing forced labor

  Trump administration bans imports of cotton and tomatoes from China’s Xinjiang region, citing forced labor Move is the latest in a flurry of efforts to cut trade ties with China before Trump leaves office. The move is the administration’s latest effort to punish China over what Western officials and human rights groups call the country’s campaign of repression against the Muslim Uighur population of Xinjiang, which has included the population’s mass detention in camps.

Pompeo said “we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state” and called on “all appropriate multilateral and relevant juridical bodies, to join the United States in our effort to promote accountability for those responsible for these atrocities.” He directed the State

Pompeo ’ s declaration also accused China of crimes against humanity. “These crimes are ongoing and include: the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor

As Joe Biden prepared to be sworn in as United States President on Wednesday, both the outgoing Trump administration and Beijing made a last-minute play to shape his future China policy -- and provide the first major foreign policy challenge of his term.

a person standing in front of a building: This photo taken on June 4, 2019 shows people walking past a screen displaying images of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Kashgar, western Xinjiang. © GREG BAKER/AFP/AFP via Getty Images This photo taken on June 4, 2019 shows people walking past a screen displaying images of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Kashgar, western Xinjiang.

About 24 hours before Biden took office, the US State Department officially accused the Chinese government of committing "genocide" against Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying there was a "systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state."

US bans all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over slave labor

  US bans all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over slave labor "China does not just indicate a country of origin," one U.S. official said. The Withhold Release Order (WRO) issued by CBP is based on information that “reasonably indicates” the use of forced labor within China’s so-called “re-education” camps. CBP also claims China is oppressing its Muslim population in that region.

More. WWD. Pompeo Declares Genocide in China ’ s Xinjiang Province. Read full article. That designation — on Pompeo ’ s last full day in office before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in — caps a series of escalating warnings and actions in reaction to the treatment of the Muslim minority group in

By making a genocide determination, Pompeo might have given more credence to calls to boycott companies that do business in Xinjiang . Walt Disney Co. found itself in hot water last year because it shot parts of its “Mulan” remake in Xinjiang and thanked some of the region’ s government entities

Rights groups say up to 2 million people, mostly Muslims, have been detained in sprawling fortified camps set up across Xinjiang since 2017, where they have allegedly been subject to political indoctrination and abuse. China has consistently denied such claims, and argues the camp system in Xinjiang is necessary for tackling religious extremism and terrorism.

While Washington has previously sanctioned officials over Xinjiang and blocked some imports linked to forced labor, Tuesday's declaration is the first time it has officially used the term genocide.

Genocide is, according to the United Nations, "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." The declaration, while carrying no automatic penalties, marks a rare step for the US government, which historically has shown some hesitancy in attaching the genocide designation to an ongoing crisis.

As Trump's top diplomat, Pompeo sought to position himself as the president's successor

  As Trump's top diplomat, Pompeo sought to position himself as the president's successor In the final days of the Trump administration, Pompeo issued a flurry of decisions and promoted his record as a loyal servant of the president. This month Pompeo overturned decades of bipartisan policy and lifted restrictions on government contacts with Taiwan, ignored appeals from humanitarian aid organizations and labeled Houthi forces in Yemen as terrorists, designated Cuba as a state sponsor of terror and declared without offering evidence that Iran had become a “home base” for Al Qaeda.

Pompeo had said earlier that China ' s actions against Uighurs and Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region, in northwestern China , were a " genocide " and a "crime against humanity." Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a media briefing

Mike Pompeo has accused Beijing of genocide a day before president-elect Joe Biden takes office. US- China relations have plunged to the lowest level in decades in the last year of Trump's administration. Mike Pompeo ' s declaration comes just 24 hours before President-elect Joe Biden is

And it will fall to the new Biden administration, which has been supportive of calling the situation in Xinjiang a genocide, to take action on this issue, or wilt in the face of an aggressive Beijing attempting to force a "reset" on its terms.

Poor timing

Pompeo's choice to make the Xinjiang declaration at the last possible minute, in an action that was largely lost in the drama of the presidential transition, has frustrated many researchers and human rights activists who have long argued for such a designation.

"Don't credit rump Trump architects of chaotic China policy for eleventh hour gestures they first opposed for years," James Millward, a historian of Xinjiang, wrote in a Twitter thread denouncing what he said was Pompeo's "hypocrisy" on this matter.

Millward pointed out that the Trump administration blocked multiple attempts by Congress to take action on Xinjiang, in both 2018 and 2019, as the President pursued a trade deal with China, while Pompeo sought to take credit for exposing atrocities that were brought to light by journalists and researchers "years before Trump flipped on his 'good friend' Xi."

"Genocide" of the Uyghurs: China castigates Pompeo's "lies"

 © Supplied by Le Point "D absurd lies": China derided the accusations of the outgoing US Secretary of State on Wednesday Mike Pompeo, according to which Beijing is committing "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims in its region of Xinjiang (Northwest). This qualification "is just a scrap of paper in our eyes," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters hours before the end of the Trump administration's mandate .

China ’ s foreign ministry described outgoing US secretary of state Mike Pompeo as a “doomsday clown” and said his designation of China as a perpetrator of genocide and crimes against humanity was merely “a piece of wastepaper”.

Communist China denies Pompeo ’ s allegations, despite reporting from the Associated Press (AP) and others showing that many goods imported to the United States from China , including clothing and electronics, is made by slaves living in concentration camps. According to official Chinese doctrine

More than anything else, Pompeo's final shot across Beijing's bow seems to have been an attempt to bind the hands of the incoming administration.

"The flurry of restrictions and penalties enacted (against China) in the waning months of the Trump administration (are) meant to make it politically impossible or technically difficult for the incoming administration to roll back," Scott Kennedy, a China analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote this week. "Figuring out how to manage this inheritance will be the chief foreign policy challenge of the new administration."

But while the new designation could potentially complicate Biden's relationship with Beijing, it may also provide him with a source of leverage. Already, Biden's nominee for Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, has said he agrees with the "genocide" designation.

Reset with conditions

Beijing is looking to influence Biden's policy, with talk of a reset while signaling potential repercussions should he continue with his predecessor's hawkish stance towards China.

Biden must follow through on the State Department’s China genocide declaration

  Biden must follow through on the State Department’s China genocide declaration On his last full day in office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally declared that China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity through its campaign of repression against Uighur Muslims. Pompeo’s declaration is the strongest rebuke from any government of China’s atrocities in Xinjiang, and one that is sure to affect how the incoming Biden administration interacts with China. © Provided by Washington Examiner Noting that the crimes are still ongoing, Pompeo specified that Beijing is responsible for the arbitrary imprisonment of more than a million people, forced sterilization, torture, forced labor, and restrictions on freedoms

Chinese state-run media has been celebrating the end of the Trump administration in recent days.

Hours before Trump was due to leave the White House for the last time, state-run news agency Xinhua tweeted in English an image of the US Congress with the words, "Good riddance, Donald Trump!"

Also on Wednesday, China enacted new sanctions against Pompeo and several other former Trump officials who Beijing said had "planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China's internal affairs, undermined China's interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-US relations."

The measures bar the former officials "and their immediate family members" from entering China, Hong Kong and Macao, and forbids them "and companies and institutions associated with them" from doing business with China. That could prevent those sanctioned taking up lucrative post-administration roles with think tanks or consulting businesses focused on China, a consideration that Beijing may hope will influence incoming Biden officials against taking strident positions on these issues.

Speaking Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying blamed "Pompeo and other anti-China, anti-communist forces" for fostering "various misunderstandings on Xinjiang-related matters."

Biden believes China is committing genocide against the Uighurs

  Biden believes China is committing genocide against the Uighurs President Biden continues to believe the ruling Chinese Communist Party is committing genocide against the Uighur Muslim population, the Washington Examiner can confirm, after the Trump administration designated China’s actions as such the day before Biden’s inauguration. © Provided by Washington Examiner Emily Horne, the spokesperson for Biden’s National Security Council, told the Washington Examiner that “President Biden has called the oppression of the Uighurs a genocide, and he stands against it in the strongest possible terms.

As the chief China hawk in the Trump administration, who has led criticism of Beijing over Hong Kong as well as Xinjiang, Pompeo is a figure of loathing for Chinese diplomats and the country's tightly controlled state media, which in the final week of the Trump administration ran multiple stories hailing his imminent exit.

In a piece ahead of Biden's inauguration, Xinhua said that "one of the world's most important bilateral relations is at a critical crossroads."

"Whether China-US relations could return on track depends on the new US administration," Xinhua said, adding that Washington should "seize fresh opportunities to cooperate" on issues such as climate change, while avoiding "red lines," like increasing engagement with the democratic and de facto independent island of Taiwan.

"President Biden has repeatedly emphasized the word unity in his inauguration speech," Hua, the spokeswoman, said Thursday. "I think this is exactly what the current China-US relations need. Because in the past four years, some anti-China politicians in the US have told too many lies and incited too much hatred and divisions out of personal gains."

Early challenge

Just how the Biden administration handles the issue of Xinjiang could be a major test of this relationship. If Blinken is serious about maintaining his predecessor's designation, then presumably this must be followed by additional sanctions, or some kind of international action, otherwise Washington risks acknowledging an ongoing genocide and standing by as it happens.

Undoing Trump's policies and other things Biden did his first week as president

  Undoing Trump's policies and other things Biden did his first week as president President Joe Biden has signed over 30 executive orders ranging from reversing Trump-era policy to adjusting the nation’s response to the pandemic.The orders ranged in topic from dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to beginning the process for what he hopes will be immigration reform. Many take direct aim at the decisions of former President Donald Trump.

But international action could be undermined by the manner in which Pompeo made the declaration.

"A statement that a genocide is occurring in a foreign country is a political act, not a legal finding, and its impact therefore depends entirely on the reputation and credibility of the speaker," Kate Cronin-Furman, an assistant professor of human rights at University College London, wrote this week. "Pompeo announced the determination at perhaps the worst moment imaginable (with the US) at the absolute nadir of its standing in the international community."

Nor has the wider international community shown any great hurry to act on this issue.

Last month, the European Union moved towards signing an investment deal with China, despite concerns raised over human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and the active lobbying against it of some incoming Biden officials.

"The stories coming out of Xinjiang are pure horror. The story in Brussels is we're ready to sign an investment treaty with China," European lawmaker Guy Verhofstadt said at the time, rubbishing supposed promises regarding forced labor contained in the deal. "Under these circumstances any Chinese signature on human rights is not worth the paper it is written on."

British lawmakers who tried to restrain their government from pursuing greater trade with China have also been frustrated. This week, the country's parliament narrowly defeated an attempt to restrict agreements with countries found to have genocide, a measure directly aimed at China. While campaigners have vowed to continue the fight in the House of Lords, Pompeo's statement -- which came in the middle of the debate -- did not ultimately sway a majority of MPs.

Biden may have more influence in both Brussels and London than Trump ever did, and certainly he has spoken of the need to rebuild America's international standing after four years of Trump. But whether he uses his position to lobby for action on Xinjiang, or a tougher line on China in general, remains to be seen.

Biden Should Keep His Word and Recognize the Armenian Genocide | Opinion .
Whether it is on the campaign trail in search of votes or holding fundraisers, candidates from George W. Bush to Barack Obama have all promised to recognize the Armenian genocide as president. But once in office, they capitulate to Turkish pressure and bow to the altar of realpolitik by using euphemistic language and verbal gymnastics to describe what a vast majority of historians acknowledge as the first genocide of the 20th century. For deniers like Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Armenian genocide is fake news and one big conspiracy despite historical evidence.

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