The Chinese government’s actions in its northwestern Xinjiang province have violated every provision in the United Nations’ Genocide Convention, according to an independent report by more than 50 global experts in human rights, war crimes, and international law.
The report, published Tuesday by the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy think tank in Washington, D.C., claimed the Chinese government “bears state responsibility for an ongoing genocide against” the Uighurs “in breach of the (UN) Genocide Convention.”
It is the first time a non-governmental organization has undertaken an independent legal investigation into the accusations of genocide in Xinjiang, according to CNN, who exclusively received an advanced copy of the report.
“China’s policies and practices targeting [Uighurs] in the region must be viewed in their totality, which amounts to an intent to destroy the [Uighurs] as a group, in whole or in part,” the report said.
Up to 2 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are estimated to have been detained in a network of detention centers throughout the region, according to Axios.
Furthermore, numerous reports and testimonies suggest the authoritarian government is specifically targeting the Muslim-majority population with actions such as forbidding public prayer and surveilling mosques.
Former detainees claim they were indoctrinated, sexually abused, and forcibly sterilized at these reeducation camps, according to reports.
Back in June, an Associated Press investigation also concluded that China was committing “demographic genocide” through forced sterilization and abortions.
China has denied these allegations, saying the centers are necessary to prevent religious “extremism” and terrorism. During a Sunday press conference, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi slammed the allegations.
“The claim that there is genocide in Xinjiang couldn’t be more preposterous,” he said. “It is just a rumor fabricated with ulterior motives, and a lie through and through.”
Adopted in December 1948 following the end of World War II and the Holocaust, the U.N. Genocide Convention is considered the international legal standard for what constitutes “genocide.” China, alongside 151 other member nations, is a signatory to the convention.
The Newlines Institute report mostly looks at Article II of the Genocide Convention, which defines genocide as an attempt to commit acts “with an intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Following the convention’s adoption, it has been the basis for international tribunals against genocide perpetrators such as those in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, which occurred in the International Criminal Tribunals held by the U.N. Some convictions occur in national courts, such as an Iraqi one in 2006 finding former dictator Saddam Hussein guilty of genocide.
However, establishing an international tribunal under the convention would require approval from the U.N. Security Council. Further complicating matters, China is a permanent member of the council with veto power, making any U.N. debate on genocide accusations in Xinjiang incredibly unlikely.
The convention, it should be noted, does not outline specific penalties or punishments for states or governments found to have committed genocide. Although, the Newlines report said that under the agreement, the other 151 signatories have a responsibility to act.
“China’s obligations […] to prevent, punish and not commit genocide are erga omnes, or owed to the international community as a whole,” the report stated.
On January 19, the final full day of the Trump administration, then-outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a declaration calling China’s actions in Xinjiang as “genocide,” making the United States the first country to formally do so. Pompeo’s successor, Antony Blinken, has said he agrees with the genocide designations, meaning the Biden administration will likely not rescind it.
Following suit last month, Canada and the Netherlands’ parliaments passed non-binding resolutions labeling China’s repression of Uighurs as genocide.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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China Uses Spy Balloon Incident for Propaganda Against the US
Chinese state-run media has waged a propaganda blitz to alter the narrative on its spy balloon that recently flew over the United States. Such outlets are alleging that the balloon in fact was not used for spying, and even if it was, it wasn’t China’s balloon. The CCP-run media also claims that the US is lying about the issue, while China is acting in good faith. Additionally, China’s state-run media uses the incident to quickly deflect away from any responsibility for China, and to criticize and gaslight the US.
Claim #1: The balloon was not used for spying, and if it was, it wasn’t China’s balloon
Whatever the balloon was, it certainly wasn’t a spy balloon, according to China’s state-run media. China “confirmed” that the balloon was a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes” that made an “unintended” entry into US airspace due to “Westerlies” and a “limited self-steering capability,” according to China Daily. Other sources like Xinhua obliquely dismiss the incident as a “chance occurrence.”
And if the object was a spy balloon, then it wasn’t used by China, according to Chinese state-run media. For example, according to a China Daily article, the photo taken of the balloon is “unclear…and features no sign linking it to China.” That article also stated that “the technology is outdated one can hardly imagine any nation like China still resorting to it today.”
Claim #2: The US is speculating, and even lying, about the nature of the balloon
China’s state-run media assert that the US media and defense establishment are misrepresenting the nature of the spy balloon. According to a China Daily article, US allegations that the balloon is a spy balloon is a “conspiracy theory” and a “lie.” One Global Timesarticle states that US assertions that China was using the balloon to spy on the US was “not backed by concrete proof.” Another Global Times article claimed the US military and media were accusing China of espionage “[b]efore being clear of the facts.” That same article claimed that calling the object a spy balloon was “groundless speculation” and “hype.”
Claim #3: China is acting in good faith
China, on the other hand, is acting in good faith to resolve the misunderstanding, according to Chinese state-run media. According to Global Times, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has pledged that China “will continue communicating with the US to properly handle the unexpected situation…” China “urges communication to avoid misjudgment” reads a headline in another Global Times article. The article further goes on to cite Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Central Committee, as incredulously stating that “China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international law.” A China Daily editorial on the incident stated flatly that “China cherishes its relationship with the US, and that goodwill should be met in kind.”
Claim #4: The US is using the balloon issue to pressure China
China state-run media craftily deflects all responsibility for the incident from China, and instead claims that the US is using the issue to pressure China. One Global Times article asserted that the US was taking advantage of the incident to allow “some hawkish anti-China lawmakers a chance to attack China…”and to foment “anti-China sentiment fanned by some politicians out of selfish interest.” Another Global Times article stated that the incident was an “old trick of exerting extreme pressure on China…in an attempt to gain more bargaining chips.” The article castigated the US of having used the incident to “bring new tensions to China-US relations as a follow-up to more intensive US moves to contain China in the fields of military, technology, and diplomacy, and also on issues of China’s core concerns, including on the island of Taiwan.”
China’s state-run media also portray the incident as the US attempting to undermine from a more stable relationship with China. For example, a China Daily editorial states that the US drawing attention to the balloon “…makes one doubt its sincerity in putting bilateral relations back on a healthy track,” and that “[b]y sensationalizing the supposed threat of the ‘surveillance balloon’, US media and politicians are damaging Sino-US relations.”
Another tactic of China’s state-run media is to spin the incident as a “teachable moment” for the United States. For example, “analysts” cited by Global Times castigated “the US to be more sincere in fixing relations with China instead of making provocative actions against it” in the wake of the incident. According to another Global Times article, it is the US, not China, that needs to make amends: “The Biden administration should demonstrate true political leadership to handle relations with China for the benefits of the two peoples, instead of letting the balloon incident or other unexpected events impede…bilateral exchanges…”
Through its state-run media, China has been able to deflect responsibility away from the spy balloon incident, and instead use the incident to attack the United States. China’s misrepresentation of the incident will likely foreshadow greater tensions between China and US relations in the future.
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