There is a word for what is happening in the Xinjiang region of China: genocide. Chinese authorities have rounded up millions of Uyghurs and other minorities as part of their campaign of persecution and cultural eradication. Former detainees and prisoners report that they have suffered torture, rape, forced labor, and involuntary abortion and sterilization in state-run facilities. At least 800,000 children have been separated from their families.
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is on record declaring that the Chinese government’s actions amount to genocide. Democrats and Republicans in both houses of Congress have endorsed this horrifying conclusion, as did the Trump administration. As a party to the Genocide Convention, the United States now has a legal and moral obligation to try to end these mass atrocities. The Biden administration has already made some important progress. It mobilized its allies to impose joint targeted sanctions on perpetrators in March, then secured an unprecedented commitment from the G-7 to address Uyghur forced labor in global supply chains in June. Yet more must be done.
Given China’s global economic and political influence, it is easy to assume that there are few effective levers to influence its handling of human rights issues. But there are in fact many tools at the Biden administration’s disposal that will impose real costs on the perpetrators and enablers of these atrocities. Taken together, these steps would pressure Beijing to reverse course, offer humanitarian assistance to the Uyghur people, and ensure that American companies are not complicit in the abuses underway. These measures would also confirm Biden’s pledge to place human rights at the center of his foreign policy and send a powerful message that the United States will not tolerate efforts to wipe out an entire ethnoreligious group.
Read the full article in Foreign Affairs