After Widely-Criticized Visit by UN Rights Chief, State Dept. Again Accuses China of ‘Genocide’

( – Days after China said a visit by the U.N. human rights chief had put to rest “lies and rumors” about the situation in Xinjiang, the State Department on Thursday restated the U.S. assessment that Beijing is committing “genocide” against minorities in the far-western region.

Releasing the department’s annual report on human rights around the world, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom Rashad Hussain both underlined accusations that China hotly disputes.

“China continues its genocide and repression of predominately Muslim Uyghurs and other religious minority groups,” said Blinken. “Since April 2017, more than one million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and others have been detained in internment camps in Xinjiang.”

Hussain repeated the allegation of “genocide and crimes against humanity” and added that the Chinese government also uses sophisticated artificial intelligence and facial recognition technologies “to surveil and maintain control of its open-air prison in Xinjiang.”

“Behind all the evidence and data, the many reports of deaths in custody, torture, and physical abuse, there are thousands of Uyghur family members – daughters and sons are desperate to know where their parents are, but are terrified of what news they could discover and are wondering whether they will ever be safely reunited,” he said.


Last weekend U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet wrapped up a controversial trip to China which focused in part on Xinjiang.

Her end-of-visit statement did not call out the mass-scale rights abuses which two U.S. administrations and Uyghur campaigners have said amount to genocide and crimes against humanity.

Bachelet also echoed some of Beijing’s talking points and terminology relating to its policies in Xinjiang. She relayed without skepticism China’s claim to have shut down what it terms “vocational and education training centers” – or what Blinken on Thursday called “internment camps” where more than a million people have been incarcerated.

Critics had warned beforehand that in the absence of full and unfettered access in Xinjiang, China would use the U.N. official’s trip for propaganda purposes,

It duly did so, with foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian in his first daily briefing after her departure saying that Bachelet’s visit had “clarified misinformation,” and that “all lies and rumors related to Xinjiang have fallen apart in front of facts and truth.”

Another ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said Bachelet’s visit had “unraveled the false narratives carefully concocted by some in the U.S.”

“Honest people of integrity will reach the conclusion after visiting China that the horrendous atrocities depicted by some in the U.S. simply do not exist in China,” she tweeted.

Frustrated by the outcome, Uyghur activists have called on the high commissioner to resign, while the U.S. and British governments also voiced concern. The E.U. renewed calls for her office to release immediately a report on Xinjiang which, according to Bachelet, was being finalized eight months ago.

Forced labor

Thursday’s release of the State Department report comes shortly before a U.S. ban on imports from Xinjiang is due to take effect.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) which President Biden signed into law in December, includes a presumption that all goods produced in Xinjiang involve forced labor, and bars their importation unless companies can provide clear evidence to the contrary.

Xinjiang is a major producer of cotton and almost half of the world’s supply of polysilicon, used to make solar panels, comes from the vast region.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which will oversee enforcement of the UFLPA from June 21, apparel, chemicals, and agricultural goods from Xinjiang are products most likely to be derived from forced labor.

Earlier Thursday – commenting before the State Department report’s release – foreign ministry spokesman Zhao responded to a question about the UFLPA ban by saying Beijing has “rebuked U.S. lies on Xinjiang many times.”

He said the legislation in question “maliciously smears the human rights conditions in China’s Xinjiang, grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs, gravely violates international law and basic norms governing international relations, and violates market rules and commercial ethics.”

Zhao said implementation of the law will undermine global supply chains stability and ultimately hurt U.S. interests too.

“We urge the U.S. to refrain from enforcing the act, stop using Xinjiang-related issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs and contain China’s development. If the U.S. is bent on doing so, China will take forceful measures to firmly defend its own interests and dignity.”

At the U.N.’s International Labor Organization, which like Bachelet’s office is located in Geneva, the U.S. and several allies are now reported to be calling for an ILO mission to investigate allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang.


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