As the Trump Administration works to keep the flow of aggressive China-related headlines flowing across social media, Politico reported on Tuesday that the administration is weighing the possibility of labeling Beijing’s treatment of Muslim minority Uighurs a “genocide”.
Of course, for this label to have any real power or affect, it would have to be backed by the UN Security Council. And seeing as China has a permanent seat and veto power, the odds of this ever flying at the UN are virtual impossible.
Yet, the story – which will almost certainly elicit a rebuke from Beijing, and/or in the state-controlled press – also traces other more likely alternatives which highlight the fact that the Trump Administration is taking the issue of the Uighurs human rights’ violations at the hands of an unaccountable regime extremely seriously.
The contrast is clear: Trump is fighting to preserve America’s status as a bastion of liberty in the eyes of the world, while white educated college students work with criminals and other misguided ‘radicals’ to undermine order and confidence in the US, arguing that Trump’s election was such an “affront to Democracy”, that nothing he says or does makes any difference.
The United States is weighing formally labeling China’s brutal repression of ethnic Muslim minority Uighurs a “genocide,” two Trump administration officials said.
Activists and lawmakers have been pushing for the genocide designation in recent months, but mere consideration of the possibility by the U.S. government could further damage badly frayed ties between Beijing and Washington. It also comes in the heat of the 2020 presidential campaign, in which the two sides have jousted over which candidate would be tougher on China. A spokesperson for Joe Biden noted that the former vice president supports the label — a factor that could influence President Donald Trump’s calculations.
The discussion, which reportedly involves several executive branch departments along with the NSC and White House, is still reportedly in its “early stages”.
The internal administration discussions are still at the early stages, involving working level officials at the State Department, the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security, according to the administration officials who spoke to POLITICO on condition of anonymity. If there’s not enough consensus to use the term genocide, the administration could instead accuse the Chinese leadership of other atrocities, such as “crimes against humanity” or “ethnic cleansing.”
White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien has accused China’s communist leaders of running “concentration camps” for Uighurs in Xinjiang, a northwestern province home to millions of Uighurs. A member of a United Nations human rights panel said in 2018 that China had “turned the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp,” where people are held without charge and little recourse to get legal representation to be released. More than a million Uighurs are believed to be held in such facilities.
Uighur rights groups have accused the Chinese government of torturing many Uighurs, forcing Uighur women to get abortions and be sterilized, feeding some detainees poorly and trying to wipe away their distinct ethnic culture, including forcing many to denounce Islam and chant Communist Party slogans. Beijing also uses extensive surveillance technology to track Uighurs.
Genocide declarations are rare, legally tricky and highly politically sensitive. U.S. officials have at times tried to avoid such declarations in the past, not least because, in theory, international law would compel some sort of American intervention — though not necessarily the military kind.
Given that Politico isn’t a frequent venue for insider scoops from the administration, it’s possible that whoever leaked this story might have an axe to grind against Sec of State Mike Pompeo. Perhaps it’s a crusading bureaucrat frustrated with the secretary’s realpolitik approach.
NSC spokesman John Ullyot also didn’t address the genocide discussion but did say in a statement: “The Chinese Communist Party’s atrocities also include the largest incarceration of an ethnic minority since World War II. Where the previous administration and many other world leaders delivered speeches and empty rhetoric, President Trump has taken bold action.” A DHS spokesman declined to comment.
The term “ethnic cleansing” isn’t found in international law, so it’s effectively meaningless. But the US has used it to denounce ethnic violence in the past. For example, the Trump White House has already used it to denounce the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by the government run by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Apparently, Sec of State Mike Pompeo has pushed back on labeling the persecution of Rohingya a genocide for fear that it would drive Myanmar closer to Beijing.
But even Politico has a hard time reconciling Trump’s unwavering support for Uighers, a Muslim minority group in a region that is no stranger to terror, with the allegations of “Islamophobia” frequently lobbed at Trump and his administration.
Unsurprisingly, we haven’t seen this story picked up by CNN, or any other mainstream media orgs.
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