The United States accused China of committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” against Uyghurs in an annual human rights report that also raised concerns about Saudi Arabia, the Myanmar and Venezuela.
State Department Human Rights Report 2020 called China an “authoritarian state” which held more than 1m Uyghurs and other Muslims in his western region of Xinjiang and engaging in abuses, including rape, forced sterilization and forced abortions as well as torture and forced labor.
While Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, had previously called the crackdown on Uyghur “genocide,” language used in the report, marked the first time the Biden administration had made an official statement.
The report came a week after the US, EU, UK and Canada coordinated to impose sanctions on Chinese officials on the situation in Xinjiang, which has attracted increasing attention as Beijing prepares to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“We’re not trying to do it. . . contain or reduce China. What we want is to defend fundamental principles, fundamental rights and a rules-based international order, ”Blinken said when the report was unveiled on Tuesday.
Beijing has denied widespread allegations about its treatment of Uyghurs and encouraged boycotts against foreign companies such as H&M which have taken a stand on the use of forced labor in the region.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing continued to mount, with President Joe Biden taking a much harder position to China than many experts had anticipated.
The report also criticized China over the situation in Hong Kong, following last year’s decision to impose a national security law on the territory.
He said some of the security institutions created under the law had engaged in abuses, including police brutality against pro-democracy protesters, arbitrary arrests and one repression on the media and freedom of expression.
Blinken said the United States will use “a wide range of other tools to end abuses” around the world, including possible punitive measures permitted under Hong Kong human rights law. and democracy.
The senior US diplomat also rejected suggestions that Washington should refrain from criticizing other countries because of internal issues, including “systemic racism.”
“We’re not pretending these problems don’t exist or trying to sweep them under the rug. . . deal with them in broad daylight, transparently, ”he said.
The report did not refer to the coup in Myanmar last month, but noted “extreme repression and discrimination” against the Rohingya Muslim minority, as well as allegations of torture and sexual violence by security forces in western Rakhine state .
Blinken said the brutal crackdown by the military on civilians, including the recent murder of more than 100 people, was “reprehensible”.
Regarding Saudi Arabia, the State Department cited reports that Riyadh or its agents had committed unlawful killings, including efforts to kill Saad al-Jabri, a former senior Saudi intelligence official residing in Canada.
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The report adds that on occasion the Saudi government has failed to punish people as much as possible for committing human rights violations, creating “an environment of impunity.”
Five government agents charged with murder Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, their sentences were commuted from the death penalty to a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The report also mentions Venezuela, where the United States has refused to recognize Nicolás Maduro as the country’s legitimate leader since early 2019.
While extrajudicial killings and torture continued, according to the report, Maduro regime has tightened on freedom of speech and of the press and “regularly” blocked signals or shut down private television and radio stations. It also “essentially criminalized” free speech, the State Department said.