Today, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in writing what the Biden administration has already said publicly the Chinese Communist Party is committing genocide against the Uyghur minority ethnic group in Xinjiang.
“Too many people continued to suffer under brutal conditions in 2020. In China, government authorities committed genocide against Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and crimes against humanity including imprisonment, torture, enforced sterilization, and persecution against Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups,” Blinken wrote in the preface to the 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released on Tuesday.
“This genocide designation is very serious and should carry heavy consequences. It is not enough to merely target a particular province, such as Xinjiang, because the acts and practices are being carried out by the Chinese Communist Party which controls the Beijing government. There is no reason to believe the atrocities only occur in one province. The US needs to excise Chinese companies, which are controlled by the CCP or subject to control, from US financial markets as well as our goods and services trade,” says CPA CEO Michael Stumo.
The term “genocide” was first used by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to describe the capture and detention of tens of thousands of Uyghurs in holding cells in Xinjiang. When asked if he agreed with Pompeo’s call prior to becoming the new Secretary of State, Blinken said that he did.
Blinken then went on to call out China’s treatment of Uyghurs in a diplomatic meeting in Anchorage. That day ultimately led to sanctions against individuals that finally had Europe following suit. China struck hardest against Europe, who was missing in action on China during the Trump years. Those actions led to companies like Addidas, Nike and H&M saying they would no longer source cotton from Xinjiang province, China’s biggest cotton producer (and subject to a Customs and Border Protection ban). But German fashion brand Hugo Boss’s local subsidiary said on a social media post that they would not abide by any sanctions, and Japanese athletic gear maker Asics said the same.
Tuesday’s Human Rights report is the first time the U.S. government has defined the Uyghur situation as a genocide in an official document.
“There were numerous reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. In many instances few or no details were available.
In Xinjiang there were reports of custodial deaths related to detentions in the internment camps. There were multiple reports from Uyghur family members who discovered their relatives had died while in internment camps or within weeks of their release. For example, in October the government formally confirmed to the United Nations the death of Abdulghafur Hapiz, a Uyghur man detained in a Xinjiang internment camp since 2017. The government claimed Hapiz died in 2018 of “severe pneumonia and tuberculosis.” His daughter said she last heard from Hapiz in 2016; sources reported he disappeared no later than 2017 and was held without charges in an internment camp.”
While the report finally puts the CCP’s genocide against the Uyghurs in writing, it does not make recommendations for actions. It is unclear what happens next, but we think the report could further harden Congress on holding the Chinese government accountable and take the human rights issue into consideration in a number of bills currently in the works. Specifically, Congress should ban any product made with forced labor from entering the U.S. Just as important, it’s time for “woke” multinationals that preach morality here in America to finally abide by their own grandstanding and stop buying Chinese products made with forced labor.
Some wishy-washy multinationals argue that it is impossible for them to know if there is, or was, any mistreatment of minorities at their contract suppliers in Xinjiang.
Getting information out of Xinjiang is not easy, but there have been enough documentation and video footage of these facilities, and those who have either escaped custody, were in custody or knew someone who was.
The BBC did a mini-documentary on this last month.
The Chinese government uses its membership on the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Committee to block NGOs critical of China from obtaining UN accreditation and barring accredited activists from participating in UN events, the State Department said. Beijing also retaliated against human rights groups working with the United Nations.
We also see them retaliate against corporations, using local influencers in the arts to pound them with bad press and commentary on social media; a move that ultimately brought Hugo Boss’s local subsidiary to heel.
CPA has advocated for regional wide bans on goods sourced from Xinjiang and we have seen that the Department of Homeland Security shared the same thoughts on cotton and tomatoes. Numerous companies have also been banned from selling to the U.S. through Withhold Release Orders until they can prove their product was not made with forced labor.
Secretary Blinken was right to put the Chinese government’s genocide in writing. Now, it’s time to take action to prevent U.S. companies – and tens of millions of unwitting U.S. consumers – from funding the Communist Party’s genocide.