China lashes back at US over ‘Uyghur genocide’ label


China on Monday dismissed the previous US administration’s declaration that Beijing was committing genocide against Uyghurs and other minorities as “venomous lies” and called the determination “nothing more than a piece of wastepaper”.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying blamed the declaration of genocide on former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accusing him of fabricating sensational false propositions throughout his term in office.

Pompeo said he had “determined” China is “committing genocide and crimes against humanity” in the XUAR against Uyghurs and other ethnic groups, and that Beijing and the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) “must be held to account.”

The new Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has endorsed the designation, suggesting that President Joe Biden’s administration will pursue a more forceful approach in holding China accountable for its abuses in the region.

On Jan. 20, the first day of the Biden administration, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying slammed Pompeo’ as a “notorious liar and cheater who is making himself a doomed clown and a joke of the century with his show of lies and madness just before the curtain falls”.

On Monday, the official Global Times newspaper ran an unsigned report which said that since the announcement “many residents from Xinjiang began to post videos of themselves telling stories of their own lives to refute Pompeo’s ‘genocide’ claim” with the hashtag ‘This is Xinjiang’ on the Sina Weibo social media platform.

It said that at the time of publishing, the topic had been viewed nearly 47 million times and commented on by more than 53,000 netizens.

The report, which was accompanied by a video of Uyghurs using the Uyghur language and Mandarin Chinese to discuss how the CCP had improved their lives in the region, quoted four Uyghurs praising the government and telling Washington to butt out of China’s affairs.

“Pompeo is a liar. What he said is opposite to what I see with my own eyes every day,” the report cited Alinur, a “grassroots civil servant,” as saying.

“As a Uyghur living in Xinjiang, I have more rights to say whether it is good than a U.S. politician,” said the resident of Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining)—the seat of Ili Kazakh (Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture and the XUAR’s third largest city.

German researcher Adrian Zenz, a leading expert on China’s policies toward Uyghurs told RFA’s Uyghur Service on Monday that China is trying to promote a counter narrative both internationally and domestically about the Uyghurs.

And while that narrative may be largely successful on the nation’s majority Han Chinese, “there’s a good chance that the Uyghurs will interpret this in light of their entire and past experience with the regime and its propaganda and might come to opposite conclusions,” Zenz said

Amid increasing international scrutiny, authorities in the XUAR have begun to send detainees to work at factories as part of an effort to label the camps “vocational centres,” although those held in the facilities regularly toil under forced or coerced labour conditions.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration in July levelled sanctions against several top Chinese officials deemed responsible for rights violations in the region, including regional party secretary Chen Quanguo, under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

The move, which marked the first time Washington had sanctioned a member of China’s powerful Politburo, followed Trump’s enactment in June of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 (UHRPA), which passed nearly unanimously through both houses of Congress at the end of May.

The legislation highlights arbitrary incarceration, forced labour, and other abuses in the XUAR and provides for sanctions against the Chinese officials who enforce them.

The Biden administration has yet to lay out its foreign policy approach to China and Zenz, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, said Beijing may be trying to test the waters with state media reports such as the one published Monday. (Source: RFA)