A report published this week by the independent think tank Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, in which dozens of experts participated, concluded China is indisputably guilty of genocide against the Uyghur people of western Xinjiang.
The Chinese Communist Party has for decades persecuted the Uyghur minority of Xinjiang, a Turkic, Muslim-majority group. Persecution led the way to what multiple international observers, including the administrations of both Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, have labeled genocide under current dictator Xi Jinping. Xi’s regime has implemented a pervasive concentration camp system in Xinjiang, building at least 1,200 concentration camps in the region where as many as 3 million Uyghur people — and other minorities such as Kazakh and Kyrgyz people — have been forced to live.
The few survivors of the concentration camps who have chosen to speak out testify to being subject to brutal torture in the camps, including systematic rape, and communist indoctrination. Evidence indicates Beijing has also enslaved much of the Uyghur population and forced them to travel nationwide for arduous agricultural and industrial labor.
The Newlines report looks specifically at the legal definition of genocide, a crime under international law, and analyzes the mounting evidence of human rights atrocities in Xinjiang through the lens of this crime. Genocide is defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention. To find a state or other entity guilty of genocide, the accused party must be found guilty of at least one of several acts listed in the convention:
(a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The acts must be committed “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.”
“While commission of any one of the Genocide Convention’s enumerated acts with the requisite intent can sustain a finding of genocide, the evidence presented in this report supports a finding of genocide against the Uyghurs in breach of each and every act” listed, the Newlines report concluded. The report emphasized the conclusion followed analysis by dozens of experts in “international law, genocide studies, Chinese ethnic policies, and the region.”
The report notes Chinese officials themselves clearly outlined their intent to destroy the Uyghur ethnic group for years in public discussion of policy in Xinjiang.
“High-level officials followed up with orders to ’round up everyone who should be rounded up,’ ‘wipe them out completely … destroy them root and branch,’ and ‘break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins,'” the experts noted as examples. “Officials described Uyghurs with dehumanizing terms and repeatedly likened the mass internment of Uyghurs to ‘eradicating tumors.’”
The report notes Chinese Communist Party officials explicitly received orders to “wipe them out completely … destroy them root and branch,” referring to the Uyghur people, and “show absolutely no mercy.”
To satisfy the other elements of the crime of genocide, the report presents the extensive evidence surfacing from Xinjiang for years of the internment of Uyghur people in concentration camps, where many are believed to have been killed, some tortured to death.
The widespread and systematic sterilization of women and forcing of Uyghur women into abortions also indicates evidence to “destroy” the group and prevent them from perpetuating themselves; the destruction of historical sites like mosques and cemeteries, the report concludes, is a direct attack on Uyghur culture.
While widespread evidence exists for the crimes detailed in the report, the Chinese Communist Party has insisted the Uyghur minority receives state protection and the concentration camps are actually “vocational training” schools for under-educated people who, as Muslims, may be vulnerable to jihadist recruitment. The report notably concludes “China’s attempts to justify its policies in [Xinjiang] as a war against extremism, terrorism, or separatism do not absolve the State of responsibility for genocide.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian once again denied the existence of any genocidal activity in Xinjiang to reporters Wednesday.
“The claim of ‘genocide’ in China’s Xinjiang is ludicrous and baseless. It’s an outright ill-intentioned rumor and lie,” Zhao said, responding to a question about the American government’s conclusion that China’s actions constituted genocide. Zhao went on to accuse the United States government of genocide and urge it to “have dialogue and exchange on human rights with other countries on the basis of mutual respect and equal-footed treatment.”
The report did not make any conclusions regarding how the world should respond to China’s acts of genocide, noting that, while a party to the Genocide Convention, China does not recognize the legitimacy of the international institutions designed to process such cases, like the International Criminal Court (ICC).