'Insufficient evidence' for Xinjiang 'genocide'
US State Department office's report shows claims are politically driven: analysts
Published: Feb 21, 2021 09:46 PM

Xinjiang Photo: Xinhua

A recent exclusive report by Foreign Policy said that the US State Department's Office of the Legal Advisor had concluded after a review that there was not sufficient evidence to prove so-called genocide in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which Chinese analysts took as further demonstration that the judgment of "genocide" was politically driven and without evidence, and even the US State Department itself cannot present a legal basis for the decision. 

But it is still too early to know how much the review by the advisory body can influence the Secretary of State Antony Blinken's decision and the Biden administration's policies concerning Xinjiang, analysts said, warning that the US would not stop using Xinjiang-related issues to contain China.

The US State Department released former secretary of state Mike Pompeo's "determination" on "atrocities in Xinjiang" on January 19, a day before the end of Donald Trump's presidency, which said he believed that "genocide" is ongoing in the region.

According to a Foreign Policy report on Friday, a State Department review during the final weeks of the Trump administration of China's conduct in Xinjiang pitted the department's lawyers against advocates of a genocide determination. 

The current conclusion of the State Department lawyers does not constitute a judgment that genocide did not occur in Xinjiang, but it reflects the difficulties of proving genocide, read the report.

The power of whether to "decide genocide" is in hands of the State Department, and Blinken could just ignore the review by the Office of the Legal Advisor, according to Jia Chunyang, an expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

Blinken's decision to confirm Pompeo's assertion was based on his own reading of the convention, not on the department's findings. The official noted that the secretary of state, whether Pompeo or Blinken, wields the ultimate authority to make the final judgment, regardless of recommendations by the department's lawyers, said the Foreign Policy report, citing an anonymous State Department official. 

Blinken, who is Pompeo's successor, said on January 19 that president Trump was "was right" to take a "tougher approach to China," media reported. 

It is obvious that the genocide accusation is political slander without any proof, but that reflects the tone of the Biden administration's hardline strategy on China over Xinjiang affairs, Jia told the Global Times on Sunday, noting Blinken's declaration means that he can hardly back off, otherwise he would be criticized as inconsistent and unreliable.

The expert also said that with or without the State Department's "decision," anti-China US politicians will not give up pushing Xinjiang-related acts in the US Congress to contain China. 

Lü Xiang, an expert in US studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times that the Biden administration is still evaluating the situation to form its package of policies in different areas. 

The US faces the dilemma of being willing to contain China but lacking the resources, given so many domestic crises, he said. 

Observers noted that Biden administration will not be radical in foreign policy overall, and detailed actions in different areas are still in formation. It will continue to play the "Xinjiang card," but the question is how. 

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