US: China ‘committed genocide against Uighurs’

Publishedduration32 minutes agoSharenocloseShare pagelinkCopy linkAbout sharingimage copyrightReutersimage captionChina says its facilities for Uighurs are for vocational education

China has committed genocide in its repression of the Uighurs and other mainly Muslim peoples, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.

President-elect Joe Biden's choice for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has said he agrees with the finding.

Rights groups believe that China has detained up to a million Uighurs over the past few years in what the state defines as "re-education camps".

BBC investigations suggest that Uighurs are being used as forced labour.

Tensions with China have been a defining feature of Mr Trump's term, from trade policies to the coronavirus pandemic.

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"I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state," Mr Pompeo said in a statement. It is his last day in office as part of Donald Trump's administration.

While the statement puts pressure on China, it does not automatically introduce any fresh penalties.

Mr Blinken was asked at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday if he agreed with Mr Pompeo's announcement, to which he answered: "That would be my judgment as well."

Mr Biden's team made a similar allegation last August, saying the Uighurs had suffered "unspeakable oppression… at the hands of China's authoritarian government".