When this is the genocide of the Uyghur people in China, Biden is struggling to get his message across.
The president was in Milwaukee last night to answer questions at a televised town hall event, when host, CNNs Anderson Cooper, asked if Biden had spoken about human rights abuses in China during his call last week with Xi Jinping. What followed was a response mess about Xis’ brutal Uyghur crackdown. During a winding explanation of how Chinese leaders view the world, Biden said culturally, there are different standards that each country and their leaders are expected to follow.
Many have interpreted this as a kind of justification for the Chinese Communist Party’s desire to eliminate Turkish minorities in Xinjiang. If this were true, the president’s comment would run counter to what he has previously said about the plight of the Uyghur people. In fact, Biden, who from August called the Xinjiang crisis genocide, Cooper finally told, there will be repercussions. And [Xi] known. While it’s possible that his comments on cultural norms were a clumsy attempt to shield Xi from criticism, it’s more likely the president got his foot in his mouth as he tried to explain his obligation to report. human rights violations.
Still, the incident highlights the wider confusion of the Biden administrations when it comes to confronting Xi. If the president believes the CCP is committing genocide (White House press secretary Jen Psaki recently confirmed that he does), he should lead with a clear condemnation of the mass atrocities of the Chinese regimes, not an account of the time he spent getting to know the man in charge of the 21st century concentration camps as he did last night. He should argue his conclusions about this barbarism, and this understanding of regime behavior should play a role in every decision he makes regarding Chinese policy.
The new team has taken drastic steps to put human rights at the forefront of foreign policy decision-making. In the Gulf, this has resulted in a freeze on arms sales to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia over fears that these weapons will be used to target civilians in Yemen. The State Department has expressed its willingness to build an international partnership to deal with the military coup in Burma. Biden even made a brief statement on the podium announcing sanctions against the official responsible. No one can accuse the Biden administration of evading bold statements about human rights violations.
This human rights-based approach has also guided his engagement with China. Both Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have raised the serious human rights violations in Beijing in their appeals with their Chinese counterparts, and both consistently raise these concerns in their public speeches. On several occasions, Blinken has confirmed that he agrees with his predecessors finding that Beijing is committing crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghurs. The administration has also made it clear that the United States competes with China, if not extreme competition, as Biden recently put it.
But these officials apparently struggle to answer the question that logically follows from their convictions: Can the United States seek any form of engagement with a regime practicing forced sterilization? systematic rape, and other indescribable horrors?
Blinken believes that the United States can cope with such a regime, even if it carries out an extermination of one of the minority ethnic groups under its control. He told NPRs Mary Louise Kelly yesterday: “This has been a challenge for US administrations for decades and decades, and we have to be able to find ways to do both. Kelly then asked if the United States should boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Blinken stressed the need to prevent the importation of goods produced by Xinjiang’s forced labor system. But we need to be able to do several things at the same time, he said, showing Russia that Washington can make deals with the regime it condemns simultaneously and seemingly echoing. Recent Bidens engagement work with Beijing, when it is in the interests of the Americas to do so.
Vladimir Putin has relentlessly targeted his political opponents with arbitrary detentions and assassinations. But the Chinese campaign to annihilate the Uyghurs amounts to an international emergency of a different category and much broader in scope. Despite clear evidence, such as heartbreaking testimonies from victims, that these crimes are indeed taking place, Beijing has recruited dozens of countries to endorse its actions as a benign counterterrorism campaign and executed a global disinformation campaign to dispute the allegations he faces. The Chinese leadership’s stranglehold on Xinjiang demonstrates a technological sophistication and diplomatic know-how that has so far protected it from international repression.
Can the United States do multiple things at the same time when it comes to the mass atrocities by Chinese state parties? Not if his priority is to make Beijing an international pariah, rather than a champion of multilateral action on climate change and global public health.
The Biden administration is committed to energizing the international response to the Uyghur crisis in a way that the previous one, due to its constant referral from US allies, failed. But Biden and Blinken can’t claim to do so if their rhetoric about cooperating with the world’s most influential genocide perpetrator doesn’t match the urgency with which they must act, and if Biden continues to flash the questions with answers as clear.
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