US takes aim at China in genocide prevention report

·4-min read

The United States has again accused China of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, highlighting allegations in an annual State Department report on genocide prevention.

In the report released on Monday, the department details action taken over the past year by the Atrocity Early Warning Task Force, which aims to address what Washington says are potential or unfolding genocides around the world.

“This year, for the first time, the report provides direct, detailed accounts of atrocities taking place in specific countries, including Burma, Ethiopia, China, and Syria,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

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“These places represent some of the toughest foreign policy challenges on our agenda, and we’ll keep working toward resolutions that reflect our commitment to human rights and democratic values.”

The US has repeatedly accused the Chinese government of forced labour and state-sponsored internment of people from Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiangaccusations that Beijing denies.

The report also revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation trained 31 field officers on human rights violations in China. Although the report also discussed Myanmar, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Syria, there was no reference to specific training on any of these countries.

The report is Washington’s latest salvo in the Xinjiang row which began in earnest earlier this year when, just a few days before leaving office, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo designated the alleged human rights abuses in the far-western Chinese region as genocide.

Beijing has responded to Washington’s genocide designation by repeatedly pointing to the US’ own human rights record.

On Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian described the report as the product of “some sick people want to give others a prescription”.

“The report is just a piece of waste paper. The report slanders the Chinese government. [Accusing it of] committing genocide is the biggest lie of this century,” he said.

“The United States must not forget the slaughter and resentment against black people a hundred years ago.

“It should put more effort into resolving its own human rights issues.”

A day earlier, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying accused the US of hypocrisy and criticised universal definitions of human rights.

“The US and some of its allies like to advertise themselves as ‘defenders’ of human rights, but ads are just ads,” Hua tweeted. “They should look into the mirrors and sincerely reflect [on] their ugly records.”

Gregory Stanton, a former US State Department official, said that while the US had a long way to go to live up to its ideals, this did not absolve Beijing from responsibility for its own human rights violations.

“Our country committed genocide against Native Americans and African-Americans, our history has been of racism and genocide,” said Stanton, founder of volunteer monitoring group Genocide Watch.

“There’s a big difference, that’s history in the United States, the Chinese are doing it now, that’s a big difference.”

Stanton said the department had a conservative and selective policy of genocide designation, which was often influenced by geopolitical interests.

In the genocide prevention report released on Friday, terms like “atrocity” and “ethnic cleansing” were used in relation to Myanmar but not “genocide”, which was used for Xinjiang.

Stanton said that the evidence for genocide in Myanmar was much stronger than in Xinjiang because there was evidence of mass killings.

Stanton said Blinken should, just as in the case of Xinjiang, override the State Department’s lawyers’ judgment on Myanmar and declare what was happening to the Rohingya people.

“Other words don’t have the moral force of that word. When you call something ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘atrocity’, or ‘crime against humanity’, it doesn’t compel people to act, the word genocide does,” he said.

Additional reporting by Catherine Wong

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