Donald Trump takes final blast at China and declares repression of Uighurs genocide

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The Chinese Communist Party has been accused of committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” in its repression of Uighur Muslims.

In a final parting shot before leaving the White House, the Trump administration unequivocally called out the CCP for its attempts to "destroy" the ethnic group in the Xinjiang region.

Around one million Muslims from Kazakh and Uyghur backgrounds are thought to be locked up there by the state against their will, in what the the government insists on calling "vocational training centers".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called out the CCP today, delivering an embarrassing blow to Beijing a day before US President-elect Joe Biden is to take office.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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Pompeo made the call after viewing “exhaustive documentation of (China’s) own policies, practices and abuse in Xinjiang”, which led him to determine the ruthless crackdown had been ongoing since March 2017.

“After careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that the PRC (People's Republic of China), under the direction and control of the CCP, has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy UIghurs by the Chinese party-state,” he added.

The Trump administration has called out China for its treatment of the Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

One of the rare photos taken inside the camps
(Image: BBC)

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China has been widely condemned for complexes in Xinjiang that says are designed to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, but which others have called concentration camps.

Beijing denies accusations of abuse.

Reports of mass detention and ethnically targeted state surveillance have trickled out of the tightly controlled region in recent years.

In October last year Omir Bekali, who claims his hands were smashed by hammers and whose back was flayed with an iron whip during his detention, accused the authority of committing ethnic cleansing in an interview with The Mirror.

Omir Bekali says he was locked up in China
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Last summer a drone video, which appears to show hundreds of Uighur Muslims bound, blindfolded and lined up on their knees waiting to be pushed onto trains in Xinjiang province, circulated online.

When challenged about the footage, Chines ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming said the UK had 'poisoned' relations with China, and would "pay the price".

Today's rare determination follows intensive internal debate after Congress passed legislation on December 27 requiring the administration to determine within 90 days whether forced labor or other alleged crimes against the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are crimes against humanity or a genocide.

Drone footage showed people being led onto a train en masse
(Image: TV GRABS /)

“This is a decision that we do not take lightly,” one US official told reporters.

“It has gone through a lot of process and a lot of analysis.

"The Secretary made the determination in his role… that this is the tool that we need to deploy at this time in order to advance this vitally important cause.”

The US decision does not automatically unleash any penalties, but it means countries will have to think hard about allowing companies to do business with Xinjiang, a leading global supplier of cotton.

A police officer patrols by a "vocational training center"
(Image: REUTERS)

A high security facility close to a re-education camp in Hotan, Xinjiang
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Last week the United States imposed a ban on all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang.

Biden’s campaign declared, before the November 3 US election, that genocide was occurring in China’s western Xinjiang region.

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A week ago the UK government said firms doing business in China will face fines if they can't show their products are linked to forced labour in Xinjiang.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told MPs exports will be monitored to ensure goods are not being used in camps where Uighur are among minorities being held.