On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made it clear that the Chinese Communist Party’s oppression of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang is nothing short of genocide and reaches the same level as the Nazi genocide of Jews and others in the Holocaust. Pompeo condemned the genocide in no uncertain terms, perhaps in order to prevent incoming President Joe Biden from going soft on China’s oppression.
“Since the Allied forces exposed the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, the refrain ‘Never again’ has become the civilized world’s rallying cry against these horrors. Just because an atrocity is perpetrated in a manner that is different than what we have observed in the past, does not make it any less an atrocity,” Pompeo wrote.
The secretary of State released two determinations, both extremely damning.
“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,” he declared.
“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, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement,” Pompeo explained.
“The Nuremberg Tribunals at the end of World War II prosecuted perpetrators for crimes against humanity, the same crimes being perpetrated in Xinjiang,” he added, for emphasis.
The secretary then added that “after careful examination of the available facts,” he determined that the Chinese Communist Party “has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.”
Pompeo drew into sharp relief exactly what this means, and it is terrifying:
The governing authorities of the second most economically, militarily, and politically powerful country on earth have made clear that they are engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group, even as they simultaneously assert their country as a global leader and attempt to remold the international system in their image.
Pompeo argued that local authorities have ramped up their decades-long repression against Uyghur Muslims and other minority groups, including ethnic Kazakhs and ethnic Kyrgyz. “Their morally repugnant, wholesale policies, practices, and abuses are designed systematically to discriminate against and surveil ethnic Uyghurs as a unique demographic and ethnic group, restrict their freedom to travel, emigrate, and attend schools, and deny other basic human rights of assembly, speech, and worship. PRC authorities have conducted forced sterilizations and abortions on Uyghur women, coerced them to marry non-Uyghurs, and separated Uyghur children from their families.”
All the while, the Communist Party has denied observers access to Xinjiang and denounced reliable reports about the situation, “instead spinning fanciful tales of happy Uyghurs participating in educational, counter-terror, women’s empowerment, and poverty alleviation projects.”
“Meanwhile, they are delivering far darker messages to their own people, portraying Uyghurs as ‘malignant tumors,’ comparing their faith to a ‘communicable plague,’ and exhorting the Party faithful to implement a crushing blow, telling them ‘you can’t uproot all the weeds hidden among the crops in the field one-by-one; you need to spray chemicals to kill them all,’” Pompeo noted.
This indeed seems eerily reminiscent of the evils of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.
Pompeo then spoke for the United States, calling upon China to immediately “release all arbitrarily detained persons and abolish its system of internment, detention camps, house arrest and forced labor; cease coercive population control measures, including forced sterilizations, forced abortion, forced birth control, and the removal of children from their families; end all torture and abuse in places of detention; end the persecution of Uyghurs and other members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China, and afford Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities the freedom to travel and emigrate.”
He further called on international bodies to condemn the atrocities and noted that America has implemented sanctions “against senior CCP leaders and state-run enterprises that fund the architecture of repression across Xinjiang.”
“We will not remain silent. If the Chinese Communist Party is allowed to commit genocide and crimes against humanity against its own people, imagine what it will be emboldened to do to the free world, in the not-so-distant future,” he warned.
Incoming President Joe Biden has condemned China’s oppression of the Uyghurs, but the Chinese Communist Party has praised his incoming administration as a “new window of hope.” Biden has a long history of going soft on China, and it seems Pompeo’s statement may be intended to prevent a return to that form.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.