China Attacks Joe Biden After He Justified Concentration Camps

Vice President Joe Biden gestures toward Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan during an arrival ceremony in Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan are traveling to Washington for a State Visit. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Chinese state media did not relent in its attacks on President Joe Biden, publishing a column on Thursday accusing him of attempting to “ring-fence China,” a day after Biden appeared to justify the construction of over 1,000 concentration camps for ethnic minorities in the country.

Speaking at a town hall event produced by CNN, Biden claimed that placing Uyghur individuals and members of other Muslim-majority ethnic groups in concentration camps was a way for dictator Xi Jinping to keep the country “unified.” He claimed that he had chastised Xi on China’s litany of human rights abuses, but that the comments were perfunctory, and that Xi “gets it” that Biden is politically obligated to mention the issue.

The U.S. government estimates that as many as 2 million people remain trapped in the Chinese concentration camp system as of 2020. Survivors of the camps have testified to outrageous human rights atrocities including extensive torture, rape, evidence of live organ harvesting, indoctrination, and slavery. In a particularly gruesome account published by the BBC this month, witnesses testified to Han Chinese guards using electric batons to rape women and electrocute them simultaneously. Some women said they were forced to tie other women up to beds so that unknown men could come to the camp on a nightly basis and gang-rape them. Extensive evidence has also revealed the use of forced sterilization and abortions on Uyghur women, a tactic international legal experts accept as a form of genocide.

The Chinese Communist Party claims the concentration camps are “vocational training centers” for undereducated people and that all witnesses claiming they were abused are hired actors.

The administration of former President Donald Trump declared the atrocities committed against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China, a genocide, an assessment with which Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken publicly agreed. Despite this, Biden himself appeared to justify the measures as necessary to keep China “unified” in the eyes of Beijing.

“If you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been the time China has been victimized by the outer world is when they haven’t been unified at home. It’s vastly overstated, but the center of principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China,” President Biden told CNN host Anderson Cooper on Tuesday in response to a question on Biden’s policy on Uyghur abuses. “And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that.”

Biden told Cooper that he raised the issue with Xi, but in the context of his concern that he may lose political support if he did not. Biden compared Xi’s presumed obligation to place people in concentration camps to his own obligation to complain about it.

“I point out to him no American president can be sustained as a president if he doesn’t reflect the values of the United States,” Biden said. “So, the idea that I’m not going to speak out against what he’s doing in Hong Kong, what he’s doing with the Uyghurs in Western Mountains of China, and Taiwan, trying to end the one-China policy by making it forceful. I said, and he gets it, culturally there are different norms in each country, and their leaders are expected to follow.”

Biden concluded that China would face “repercussions,” a claim White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki later walked back.

The friendly overture did not deter the Global Times, a state-run publication, from running a scathing piece on Thursday claiming that Biden was organizing a nefarious conspiracy to limit China’s influence in the Group of Seven (G7), scheduled to meet virtually this week. The newspaper accused Biden of trying to put “old wine in new bottles” by putting a kinder face on the anti-communist policies of President Trump.

“It will not prevail easily as the G7’s perceptions about China are divided and the U.S. cannot fulfill what they need and want,” the propaganda outlet predicted, citing its stable of Party-approved “experts.”

“The choreographed appearance in the G7 meeting reflects the essence of the Democratic Party: soft on the outside while hard on the inside,” the Global Times assessed, citing an “expert” who claimed that Biden’s party was dedicated to “besieging China,” without providing any examples.

One of the experts consulted, identified as “Wang Yiwei,” stated that any attempt by Biden to convince other nations to oppose human rights atrocities in China would fail because “not all of them see China as the ‘enemy’ such as France and Germany. Even Japan, one of the US’ most important allies in Asia may not view China as an ‘enemy.'”

China Daily, another Communist Party propaganda outlet, shifted its focus away from Biden in an editorial published Thursday and instead condemned Blinken, so far the only voice in the Biden administration unequivocally condemning Chinese human rights atrocities. That newspaper took particular issue with Blinken holding a meeting with counterparts in Australia, Japan, and India.

“That the Joe Biden administration has taken the initiative to continue promoting the so-called Quad has driven home the message that it is a jackal at home in the former lair of another,” the editorial protested, “the Biden administration has seized the trowel from its predecessor and is mortaring bricks in an attempt to build a seawall with which to protect its regional influence and hegemony.”

“If Washington really wants to avoid conflict, it is the one that needs to stop what it is doing and undo what it has already done,” the newspaper advised.

The attacks in Chinese media indicate that Biden’s overture to Beijing by justifying acts that his own administration has called a genocide have failed to change the tenor of Chinese diplomacy. China has also failed to recognize or acknowledge its atrocities in Xinjiang. Following Blinken’s statements last month agreeing with Pompeo that China is committing genocide, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded by simply chanting repeatedly, “China has no genocide.”

The evidence the Han-dominated Chinese Communist Party is committing genocide against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz people, and others in Xinjiang has grown greatly since initial reports of the construction of concentration camps in 2017. The BBC report published this month was unique in the sheer number of people who went on the record with their experiences in the camps.

“The woman took me to the room next to where the other girl had been taken in. They had an electric stick, I didn’t know what it was, and it was pushed inside my genital tract, torturing me with an electric shock,” Tursunay Ziawudun, a concentration camp survivor, told BBC. “They don’t only rape but also bite all over your body, you don’t know if they are human or animal … They didn’t spare any part of the body, they bit everywhere leaving horrible marks. It was disgusting to look at.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry dismissed Ziawudun as an alleged actress and banned the BBC from the nation’s airwaves, calling it a “national security” threat.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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