US declares China's treatment of Uyghurs 'genocide' on last full day of Trump Administration

Parting shot?

Kayla Wong | January 20, 2021, 02:20 AM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declared China's action towards its Uyghur population as "genocide" with one full day left in President Donald Trump's term.

First country to declare China's acts as "genocide"

In a statement released on Tuesday, Jan. 19 (local time), Pompeo said he has determined that China, under the "direction and control" of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has "committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang".

In a tweet, he further said these acts are "an affront to the Chinese people and to civilised nations everywhere", adding that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) must be held to account.

The U.S. is the first country to use "genocide" to refer to the Chinese government's treatment of its Uyghur and Muslim minorities.

The move comes several months after Pompeo ordered Morse Tan, the U.S. ambassador-at-large, to oversee a review to determine if China's repression of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang amounts to genocide.

The declaration was made following rigorous internal debate after legislation was passed on Dec. 27 last year by Congress that required Trump's administration to determine within 90 days if forced labour or other alleged crimes against the Uyghurs amount to genocide, Reuters reported.

Bipartisan criticism of China

The move appeared to have been made after much deliberation.

A senior official told Axios that they had been working on it "for years", and that if they had been able to do it sooner, they would have.

Incoming President Joe Biden has previously accused the Chinese government of committing "genocide" on the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Biden will be sworn in on Jan. 20 (local time).

Prior to that, the Trump administration has not used the term publicly.

This development is the latest in a series of moves the Trump Administration has taken that has escalated tensions with Beijing.

Bilateral ties between the U.S. and China has deteriorated rapidly during Trump's term, and has dropped to a freezing point in the last year of his administration.

Just days prior to this move, Pompeo had also announced that the U.S. is doing away with all diplomatic restrictions that limit the interactions between U.S. and Taiwanese officials.

Related stories:

Totally unrelated but follow and listen to our podcast here

Top image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images