U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo designated China’s crackdown on Uighurs and other minorities in the Xinjiang region as genocide, an escalation in tensions that was quickly endorsed by President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to replace him.
“I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state,” Pompeo said in a statement Tuesday. He said the country’s leaders “have made clear that they are engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group.”
Pompeo cited sterilizations, indefinite detention and forced labor in Xinjiang and called on “relevant judicial bodies” to hold those responsible to account. The Trump administration has repeatedly leveled sanctions on China over its treatment of Uighurs, and the designation had been widely expected.