Blinken meets Uyghurs, seeks advice on handling China

Blinken meets Uyghurs, seeks advice on handling China

The Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met virtually in early July 2021 with Uyghur Muslims who were detained in camps in China’s Xinjiang region to hear about their experiences and seek advice on how to pressure the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to halt its repression there.

The U.S. State Department said that Blinken wanted to hear directly from the seven former detainees, relatives of other detainees and advocates about conditions facing the Uyghur community.

“The secretary thought it important to meet with these individuals to hear firsthand their stories, to hear firsthand their impression of the ongoing atrocities in Xinjiang and the internment of a million Uyghurs,” U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “Also, it’s an opportunity for these participants to offer any recommendations they may have.”

The CCP has come under severe international criticism and sanctions for detaining more than 1 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities for political indoctrination in Xinjiang. (Pictured: A sign supporting Uyghurs is seen during a May 2021 demonstration in Washington, D.C., against the 2022 Olympics in China.)

Price said the meeting showed continuity in U.S. policy between the administrations of U.S. President Joe Biden and former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Both administrations termed the CCP’s campaign in Xinjiang as “genocide” and slapped sanctions on China for human rights abuses. Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met several times with Uyghur ex-detainees during his tenure.

“America has spoken out very clearly and consistently about the abuses, about the atrocities, about the ongoing genocide that is taking place in Xinjiang,” Price said. “And, as we deem appropriate, I suspect we’ll be employing additional tools going forward to hold to account those officials responsible for what has taken place there.”

Since President Trump’s administration, the U.S. has steadily ramped up pressure on China on a number of fronts, notably over repression in Xinjiang and a clampdown on political dissent and human rights in Hong Kong. Actions have included travel bans, financial sanctions and restrictions on Chinese imports to the U.S.