China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, a bipartisan commission of the US Congress said in a report released on Thursday.
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) said new evidence had emerged in the past year that “crimes against humanity – and possibly genocide – are occurring”. The CECC also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the United States.
China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centres” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills and which others have called concentration camps.
The United Nations says at least 1 million Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained in Xinjiang. Faith leaders, activist groups and others have said crimes against humanity, including genocide, are taking place there.
CECC co-chair, Democratic congressman Jim McGovern, called China’s actions in the past year “shocking and unprecedented” and urged Congress and the incoming Biden administration to hold Beijing accountable.
“The United States must continue to stand with the people of China in their struggle and lead the world in a united and coordinated response to the human rights abuses of the Chinese government,” he said.
Relations between the world’s two biggest economic powerhouses have plunged to the lowest level in recent years over disagreements on issues including human rights, the coronavirus pandemic, trade, espionage and a sweeping national security law imposed on Hong Kong.
Expectations that Pompeo might declare genocide were raised in June when he labelled as “shocking” and “disturbing” reports that China was using forced sterilisation, forced abortion and coercive family planning against Muslims.
He was referring to a report last year about the situation in Xinjiang by German researcher Adrian Zenz, which the CECC report also cited.
Zenz said his findings represented the strongest evidence yet that Beijing’s Xinjiang policies met one of the criteria cited in the UN genocide convention, namely “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the [targeted] group”.
A US genocide declaration would mean that countries would have to think hard about allowing companies to do business with Xinjiang, a leading global supplier of cotton. It would also raise pressure for further US sanctions against China.
On Wednesday (Jan 13), US Customs and Border Protection said the United States was imposing a region-wide ban on all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over allegations that they are made with forced labour by detained Uygurs.
This article was first published in Asia One . All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.