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U.S., China clash over ‘genocide’ claims in Xinjiang

Under watch: Guards standing outside a “vocational skills education centre” in the Xinjiang region.  

The United States has accused China of committing “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” against its minority Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, a declaration that brought an angry response from Beijing.

The Donald Trump administration deciding, on its last day in office, to declare a “genocide” in Xinjiang was the final move capping a number of recent measures that have brought relations with China to a low,with both sides in recent days clashing over Taiwan, Hong Kong as well as sanctions on Chinese firms.

Mr. Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, during the election campaign last year also described what China was doing in Xinjiang, where around a million people have been forced to “re-education” centres, which authorities there have called “vocational training”, as a “genocide”.

The declaration by the U.S. will likely mean a continuation of sanctions, including a ban on imports of cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang as well as designations of Chinese officials seen to be involved in the Xinjiang policy.

“After careful examination of the available facts,” outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement, “I have determined that since at least March 2017, the People’s Republic of China, under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party, has committed crimes against humanity”, including “severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilisation, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labour, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement”.

He added that China had “committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang” and “this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state”.

‘Piece of wastepaper’

The Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing slammed Mr. Pompeo, calling him a “doomsday clown”. The allegations were “outright sensational pseudo-propositions and a malicious farce concocted by individual anti-China and anti-Communist forces represented by Pompeo”, spokesperson Hua Chunying said, reported the Associated Press.

“In our view, Pompeo’s so-called designation is a piece of wastepaper,” she added. “This American politician, who is notorious for lying and deceiving, is turning himself into a doomsday clown and joke of the century with his last madness and lies of the century.”

As Mr. Trump leaves office, the Chinese State media and the experts have in recent days said they expected a return to more “smooth” relations and less unpredictability in ties, but major differences in the U.S.-China relations to broadly continue, as well as a greater focus from the Biden administration on human rights issues.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 2:06:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-china-clash-over-genocide-claims-in-xinjiang/article33620285.ece

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