Pompeo Determines ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ and ‘Genocide’ in Xinjiang

Screenshot of US State Department's January 19, 2021 annoucement of its determination of atrocities in Xinjiang

ON THE TRUMP administration’s final full day, the US Department of State has designated China’s actions against the Muslim minority Uighurs in Xinjiang as crimes against humanity and genocide.

The United States is the first country to make this determination officially. Beijing’s response is likely to be fierce, and especially caustic towards outgoing US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, whose name is on the determination and is scarcely beloved in Beijing. (Update: it was, on both counts.)

Pompeo’s decision does not trigger sanctions but will carry moral weight with allies and potential legal implications for companies directly or indirectly conduction business with Xinjiang.

The US Congress passed legislation on December 27 calling for the State Department to determine within 90 days whether forced labour or other alleged crimes against the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are crimes against humanity or genocide. By getting his department’s ruling out in less than one-third of that time, Pompeo has made sure that the incoming Biden administration will have an immediate point of conflict with Beijing to deal with from day one.

President-elect Joe Biden has used the term ‘genocide’ about Xinjiang, and human rights abuses are a more significant issue to Democrats than Republicans (save perhaps when it comes to China). Still, campaign-trail rhetoric carries a different weight to what is said once in office.

The United States has already banned cotton and tomato product imports made in Xinjiang. Calls for companies selling to Western markets to extricate themselves from Xinjiang-based supply chains are increasing. The Trump administration has also put several Chinese companies on its Entity List, and thus subject to export controls, due to their involvement in Xinjiang. It also imposed sanctions on senior Party leaders and state-run enterprises it accuses of being involved in repression in Xinjiang.

This Bystander suspects that the US Congress will follow-up with legislation imposing further penalties.


Filed under China-U.S.

2 responses to “Pompeo Determines ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ and ‘Genocide’ in Xinjiang

  1. Pingback: Request To Reverse Telco’s NYSE Delisting Proffers Early Olive Branch | China Bystander

  2. Pingback: Pelosi Visit Would Raise Taiwan Tensions | China Bystander

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