US must be prepared to 'impose costs' on China over Uighurs, Biden adviser says

US must be prepared to 'impose costs' on China over Uighurs, Biden adviser says
A top security adviser to US President Joe Biden says China-related issues are a priority in upcoming talks with European allies.

2 min read
30 January, 2021
Jake Sullivan said the US must take a clear stance on China-related issues [Getty]
The United States must be prepared to take action over China's treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, Beijing’s political crackdown in Hong Kong and its threats against Taiwan, US President Joe Biden's national security adviser said on Friday.

Speaking at the United States Institute of Peace, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington needs to take a clearer stance on issues relating to Beijing.

The US must be “prepared to act, as well to impose costs, for what China is doing in Xinjiang, what it’s doing in Hong Kong, for the bellicosity and threats it is projecting towards Taiwan,” Sullivan said.

Without elaborating on what action could be taken, Sullivan stressed that China-related issues are a top priority in coming talks with European allies.

“We don’t have entirely aligned perspectives on every one of these issues ... I think China is right at the top of the list of things that we’ve got to work together on and where there is work to do to get fully aligned,” Sullivan said, stressing the need for a unified response to alleged trade and technological abuses by China.

Under the Trump administration, Washington locked itself in a fierce trade war with Beijing and imposed sanctions on Chinese officials and firms over alleged human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. The Biden administration is expected to maintain pressure on Beijing, however has indicated that it is seeking cooperation from China on key policy issues, including climate change.

An eleventh-hour determination by former secretary of state Mike Pompeo deeming China to have committed genocide in Xinjiang was endorsed by the new Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The move may bolster the case for future sanctions against China over its treatment of the Uighur minority.

Rights groups say at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims have been incarcerated in camps in Xinjiang.

Independent access to the sensitive area is highly restricted, making reporting and verification of the allegations near impossible.

But witnesses and activists say that China is seeking to forcibly integrate the Uighurs into the majority Han culture by eradicating Islamic customs, including by forcing Muslims to eat pork and drink alcohol - both forbidden by their faith - whilst imposing a regime of effective forced labour.

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