The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) released their annual report on human rights in China on Thursday, declaring that China has possibly committed genocide against Uighur Muslims, a Turkic ethnic minority, in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
In their 2019 report, the CECC reported the existence of mass internment and forced labor camps in the XUAR. The 2020 report details new developments in the CECC’s investigation, including “leaked Chinese government documents [providing] additional evidence that the mass internment camp system was organized at the direction of top Party officials.”
The CECC disclosed new findings:
Disturbing new evidence has also emerged of a systematic and widespread policy of forced sterilization and birth suppression of the Uyghur and other minority populations. Further, an official XUAR policy document from 2017 stated that nearly half a million middle and elementary school-age children in the XUAR were attending boarding schools, many of whom were involuntarily separated from their families. These trends suggest that the Chinese government is intentionally working to destroy Uyghur and other minority families, culture, and religious adherence, all of which should be considered when determining whether the Chinese government is responsible for perpetrating atrocity crimes—including genocide—against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Turkic and predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in China.
In a video statement, CECC chair James McGovern (D-MA) encouraged Congress and the incoming Biden Administration to “use the reporting and recommendations contained in this report to hold the Chinese government accountable” and release “a formal determination of whether atrocity crimes, including crimes against humanity and genocide, are occurring in the XUAR.”
China’s treatment of Uighurs has drawn condemnation from foreign powers and human rights groups. In August, President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign released a statement calling China’s actions genocide, but making the same declaration as a sitting president would formally challenge China on the world stage and complicate the new administration’s Chinese relations.