Fifty global experts in international law released a report yesterday analyzing the evidence of genocide in Xinjiang. They determined that China violated every single provision in the 1948 Genocide Declaration.
As the first independent report of its kind not associated with a government, these findings add a lot of credibility to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s determination that China is committing an ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people.
Current State Department officials have recently been caught trying to avoid the responsibility to act following the genocide declaration by using the past tense to describe China’s genocide. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called out these inconsistencies on Twitter, asking why Biden’s nominee for Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and the State Department spokesperson would “refer to genocide in Xinjiang as something in the past? Then uses ‘atrocities’ language which is legally distinct?”
The statements of the Biden administration cause confusion about an issue on which the United States must be clear: Genocide is occurring in Xinjiang, and it must be stopped.
The Genocide Declaration, which the United States has ratified, calls countries to prevent and punish genocide. A new Family Research Council report argues that one of the best ways to punish China for genocide is to target their forced labor program.
Evidence that Beijing is utilizing Uyghur detainees in vast “re-education” camps as a source of forced labor in factories across the Xinjiang region abounds. But do the international companies whose supply chains run through Xinjiang actually care?
The Wire China recently reached out to the 48 largest American businesses with operations in China to ask if they had a position on the repression of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. The silence was deafening.
Only 1 out of 48 companies expressed concern for the situation. Meanwhile, 88 percent of the companies did not respond or declined to comment. The remaining companies claimed they did not source from Xinjiang.
The silence is particularly alarming given the powerful position these large U.S. companies occupy. Nury Turkel, a Uyghur who serves on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), told The Wire China, “Corporate America is so influential in China. They try to play victim, but the business community might have more leverage trying to get China to do the right thing than the diplomats. Their responsibility is at the front and center of what we are trying to accomplish to stop the genocide.”
Some companies, including Nike, Coca-Cola, and Apple, have gone so far as to lobby to dilute bills in Congress that seek to ban products made in Xinjiang with forced labor.
Yet, in Xinjiang, some of the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on forced labor may already be making an impact. In a bizarre act of desperation, Chinese companies are suing one U.S.-based researcher whose work has help exposed Beijing’s forced labor program. To the target, Adrian Zenz, the lawsuit indicates China is already feeling the economic hit from policies designed to target forced labor.
Uyghur activists are also calling into question whether it is appropriate for corporate sponsors to fund the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. As the Chinese government continues to deny its gross human rights abuses, it appears that the Olympics will take place in the shadow of a genocide.
Companies sponsoring the Olympics should think twice about those optics. These days, just about any unpopular opinion can get someone “canceled.” Yet, somehow, an ongoing genocide will not result in being canceled.
These priorities are out of line, and people know it. Americans want to see their government address human rights in China. A recent Pew Research survey found that 70 percent of Americans think the U.S. should promote human rights in China, even if it harms economic relations. That is a huge number, and the Biden administration should take note.
As Beijing grows bolder in committing atrocities, it requires a response from the leader of the free world. The Biden administration should be prepared to offer that response by taking meaningful action to combat forced labor and punish Beijing for their genocide.