Proving America's moral leadership on his last day in office, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially designated China's brutal actions against Uyghur Muslims as "genocide" and "crimes against humanity." This designation will make it difficult for anyone looking to go easy on China. The world cannot treat a government that is actively committing genocide just like that any other country.
Respecting its significance, the Unites States government has rarely made an atrocity determination. Yet, when he learned of reports about the Chinese Communist Party's efforts to "stop Uyghur women from giving birth via forced abortion and sterilization," Pompeo found the evidence of China's crimes to be overwhelming. Through "re-education" brainwashing and forced sterilization, the Chinese government is trying to erase the Uyghur people and culture entirely.
So far, Chinese leaders do not seem to be taking the declaration seriously. China's Foreign Ministry called Pompeo a "doomsday clown" and said the designation was simply "a piece of wastepaper." However, precedent suggests that genocide determinations do have an impact, and China's genocide will soon cost them.
After the U.S. government declared that ISIS was committing genocide against Christians and Yazidis, Congress passed legislation that prioritized aid for survivors to rebuild and recover from the genocide. Likewise, China's genocide designation will inevitably affect U.S.-China relations. As FRC's Travis Weber notes in the Washington Examiner, "The finding increases the moral and legal pressure to act. Contracting parties to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (which includes the U.S.) agree 'that genocide ... is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.'"
Pompeo's atrocity determination will push President Biden's administration to address China's abuses against Uyghur Muslims and others. Chinese leaders are hoping to reset relations with the U.S. with the incoming administration. Yet, Biden's team may not go as easy on China as its leaders hope.
Initially, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki hesitated to comment on whether Beijing's actions constitute genocide. Later, when asked about the genocide designation at his confirmation hearing, Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, affirmed it, saying, "That would be my judgment as well." Blinken also endorsed President Trump's general approach to being tougher on China. Meanwhile, some have expressed concern over Hunter Biden's questionable business dealings with China which are now the subject of a federal tax investigation.
Today, Chinese President Xi Jinping ominously warned the U.S. against building a coalition of allies to jointly challenge China. That shows Beijing felt the heat from the Trump administration's efforts counter China and proves the U.S. ought not change course.
Biden's team has big shoes to fill following the Trump administration's multiagency, whole-of-government approach to addressing China's growing ideological, economic, and military challenges to the free world. To keep the pressure on China, the Biden administration should continue to identify Chinese officials to sanction in connection to human rights abuses. U.S. officials should also publicly raise concerns about the 2022 Winter Olympics being held in China in the shadows of genocide and crimes against humanity.
The United States led the way as the first country to officially use the language of "genocide" to describe the Chinese government's horrific actions against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. We must continue to be a voice for oppressed religious groups in China. If America does not speak out, who will?