Pompeo calls China's treatment of Muslims an 'enormous human rights violation'

Pompeo calls China's treatment of Muslims an 'enormous human rights violation'
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoKobach has lead in Kansas Senate race unless Pompeo enters: report The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial MORE slammed China’s treatment of its Muslim population, saying in a new interview that Beijing is involved in an “enormous human rights violation.” 

“This is not only an enormous human rights violation, but we don’t think it’s in the best interests of the world or of China to engage in this kind of behavior,” Pompeo told PBS on Wednesday.

China has worked to detain an unknown number of members of the minority Uighur population in what it says are “reeducation camps.” Pompeo in the past has labeled the effort an “attempt to erase its own citizens.”

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The U.S. this week expanded its trade blacklist to some of China’s top artificial intelligence startups and announced visa restrictions on Chinese government officials it believes are behind detentions and human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province, home to a large portion of the country’s Uighur population.

Pompeo in the PBS interview laid the blame for the crisis at Chinese President Xi Jinping’s feet, saying he leads the country and just "like the leader of a tank platoon, a small business, or a country, you're responsible for the things that happen in your name.”

Beijing has denied it has mistreated the country’s Uighurs and accused the U.S. of meddling in its internal affairs.

“Recently, the U.S. side has been attacking and smearing China’s Xinjiang policies on the pretense of religion and human rights, and making baseless and mistaken remarks that are contrary to the facts,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a daily briefing, according to Reuters. “China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to this.”

The Chinese Embassy in Washington said in a separate statement this week that allegations of human rights abuses are “made-up pretexts” for interfering in Chinese affairs.

Senior U.S. and Chinese officials are expected to meet on Thursday in an attempt to resolve the escalating trade war between the two nations.