US President Joe Biden appeared to downplay China’s persecution of its Uyghur Muslim minority, saying there were “culturally different standards” in each country.
Biden made the remarks during a CNN Town Hall Tuesday’s meeting where host Anderson Cooper asked him about his recent phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
During the call, Biden would have hurry his counterpart for human rights violations in Xinjiang province, where at least one million Uyghurs are believed to be held in internment camps.
According to several reports, Uyghurs are subject to political “re-education”, while the region itself is under intense and intrusive surveillance. The New York Times has described conditions in Xinjiang as a “virtual cage” and “incubator of increasingly intrusive police systems that could spread across the country and beyond.”
Biden responded to Cooper’s question by appearing to relay Xi’s justification for abuse.
“If you know anything about the history of China, it has always been … a victim of the outside world when they weren’t unified at home,” Biden said. “So the central – well, grossly exaggerated – principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united and tightly controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does on that basis.”
Biden continued, “I point out to him that no American president can be supported as president if he does not reflect the values of the United States, and therefore the idea that I am not going to denounce what he done in Hong Kong, what he’s doing with the Uyghurs in the western mountains of China and Taiwan, trying to end the one-China policy by making it forceful, I said, and, By the way, he said, he understands. Culturally, there are different standards each country and its leaders should follow. “
Cooper asked, “But when you tell him about human rights abuses, is it with regard to the United States, or will there be real repercussions for China?”
Biden replied, “Well, there will be repercussions for China, and he knows that. What I’m doing is making it clear that we’re going to reaffirm our role as the human rights spokesperson here. ‘UN and other agencies that impact their attitudes. China is doing its best to become the world leader, and to get this nickname and to be able to do so, it has to gain the trust of others countries, and as long as they’re engaged in activities that go against fundamental human rights, it’s going to be difficult for them to do that.
Uyghur activists: trapped between Chinese persecution and US imperialism
“But it’s much more complicated than that, I shouldn’t be trying to talk about Chinese politics in 10 minutes on TV here.”
Biden’s comments contrast with those of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said he agreed with the previous administration’s statement that treating Uyghurs was a crime.
A recent BBC report revealed that women were systematically raped and sexually abused in the camps. Following this report, China banned the television channel on its territory.
An Associated Press investigation also reported that Beijing has used forced sterilization and abortion to reduce birth rates among its Uyghur population.
Rushan Abbas, executive director of the Campaign for the Uyghurs, called on onBiden to “clarify its point” and make “human rights the priority of Chinese policy”.
“We know that he considers this genocide, and we also know that he has spoken quite harshly about China’s human rights violations. If this is a misconception, we hope he will be remedied quickly, ”she told MEE.
Middle East Eye has contacted the White House for comment, but has not received a response at the time of this article’s publication.
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