Though Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the Chinese government “was” committing genocide against the minority Uighur population, his department will not say that it currently is doing so, The Washington Examiner notes.
Declaring that the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uighur population, which is mostly Muslim, a genocide was a hallmark of the Trump administration. But the Biden administration has been less aggressive, even though Biden and his appointees appeared to agree with Trump during the confirmation process.
State Department spokesman Ned Price was asked Monday during a press briefing about the “ongoing genocide in China” and if the White House intends to “impose a cost on China” more than the Trump administration.
“The secretary has made clear that, in his judgment, genocide was committed against the Uighurs in Xinjiang,” Price responded. “The PRC also has committed crimes against humanity in Xinjiang against the Uighurs, who, of course, are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups, and that includes imprisonment, torture, enforced sterilization, and persecution.
He continued: “I think the question that we are posing to like-minded allies and partners around the world is what collectively can we do not only to impose costs on China for what has transpired but in order to ensure that these, seek to ensure, that these atrocities do not continue going forward.”
Another reporter then asked a “grammatical question” about “tense,” noting that Price had said Blinken had determined a genocide “was” committed. The reporter asked if the Biden administration believes “this is not an ongoing thing” and if “you think it only happened in the past, or is it continuing now?”
According to the Examiner, Price continued to keep his comments in the past tense.
“So, the secretary made clear that in his judgment, genocide was committed against Uighurs, and we’re using that tense because the secretary was speaking in the context of his confirmation hearings at that moment in time,” Price said.