Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that China’s treatment of Muslims, including the Uighurs, in western China was an “enormous human rights violation” and Washington will continue to raise the issue, Reuters writes.
“This is not only an enormous human rights violation, but we don’t think it’s in the best interests of the world or of China to engage in this kind of behavior,” Pompeo said in a television interview with American broadcaster PBS.
Asked whether Chinese President Xi Jinping was responsible, Pompeo said: “Xi Jinping leads the country just like the leader of a tank platoon, a small business or a country is responsible for the things that happen in your name.”
Punishing Beijing for its treatment of Muslim minorities, the U.S. government this week widened its trade blacklist to include some of China’s top artificial intelligence startups and announced visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials it believes responsible for the detention or abuse of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province.
Pompeo on Sunday called on all countries to resist China’s demands to repatriate ethnic Uighurs, saying Beijing’s campaign in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang was an “attempt to erase its own citizens.”
U.N. experts and activists say at least 1 million Uighurs, and members of other largely Muslim minority groups, have been detained in camps in the remote region. China has denied any mistreatment of Uighurs, and said Xinjiang was its internal affair, Reuters adds.
“Recently, the U.S. side has been attacking and smearing China’s Xinjiang policies on the pretense of religion and human rights, and making baseless and mistaken remarks that are contrary to the facts,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a daily briefing in Beijing. “China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to this.”
The Chinese Embassy in Washington, in a separate statement issued on Tuesday, denounced the visa action and said the U.S. accusations on human rights violations were “made-up pretexts” for interfering in China’s affairs.