Administration

Biden administration reviewing China genocide designation

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The Biden administration is reviewing an eleventh hour decision by the Trump administration to designate as genocide China’s oppression of its minority Muslim Uighurs over concerns that proper procedures were not followed that would uphold such a designation. 

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, President Biden’s pick to represent the U.S. at the United Nations, said during her confirmation hearing that China’s treatment of Uighur’s is “horrific” but that the genocide designation is under review. 

“I think the State Department is reviewing that now because all of the procedures were not followed and I think that they’re looking to make sure that they are followed to ensure that that designation is held,” she said in response to questioning from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). 

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced one day before Biden’s inauguration that the U.S. would recognize as genocide China’s oppression against Uighurs and other groups like ethnic Kazakhs and ethnic Kyrgyz, and that documented actions amounted to crimes against humanity.

These include arbitrary detention in concentration camps, forced sterilizations, torture and forced labor, as well as restrictions of freedom of expression and religion. 

The designation was welcomed by human rights groups but was viewed as a last-minute policy decision to cement Pompeo’s legacy of taking a hard-line against China at a time when Beijing is being identified as the greatest national security threat facing the United States and western Democracies. 

Thomas-Greenfield emphasized in her hearing that the review was not questioning the evidence that supports a designation of genocide but making sure the U.S. is following the proper procedures in making such a designation. 

“What is happening with the Uighurs is horrendous and we have to recognize it for what it is,” she said. “I lived through and experienced and witnessed a genocide in Rwanda, so I know what it looks like. And I know what it feels like. And this feels like that. We just have to call it for what it is.”

Tags China Genocide Linda Thomas-Greenfield Marco Rubio Mike Pompeo State Department Uighurs

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