Rep. Clyburn refuses to comment on State Dept. saying China is committing ‘genocide’ against Uighur Muslims

Following the U.S. State Department on Tuesday publicly accusing China of committing “genocide” against Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) refused to comment on the declaration issued by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying he doesn’t “react to the headlines.”

When asked for his reaction to the declaration during a Fox News interview, Clyburn said: “I try to stay out of these foreign affairs matters. I have not made that a particular endeavor of mine in the Congress. I listen to these things and I usually reserve comment when they are bordering on international issues, and I will today as well.”

Fox News anchor Sandra Smith then asked if he supported the declaration, to which Clyburn replied, “I don’t react to the headlines,” going on to complain about how politics is too soundbite-driven, eventually saying, “I’ll have to see with the substance of [the declaration] is.”

Smith offered some more context about the declaration to South Carolina Democrat, bringing up President-elect Joe Biden‘s treasury nominee Janet Yellen who said on Tuesday at her confirmation hearing that China is guilty of “horrendous human rights abuses” when she was asked if President Xi Jinping committed genocide.

Smith then asked Clyburn the same question and he reiterated that he’s going to “stay out” of international affairs. He also said that Pompeo “has not been one of my favorite people” and criticized the departing secretary of state for making such a move on his last day of office.

Smith pressed Clyburn some more, asking him if he thinks President Xi and China committed genocide.

“You can ask me as many times as you wish,” he replied. “I’m going to wait to see what an administration I trust, what conclusions they come up with. I’m not going to pass judgment on that.”

The statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes less than 24 hours before Biden becomes president, making this declaration one of Pompeo’s final acts as secretary of state. His statement also forces the incoming president to decide whether or not to maintain the declaration.

In the statement published Tuesday, Pompeo accused the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of committing “crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang” as far back as March 2017.

These crimes, the United States’ chief diplomat said, include “the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.”

Moreover, Pompeo’s move is the latest in a series of actions against China by the Trump administration, with tensions between the U.S. and China having escalated over the past year.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.