Biden appears to downplay Uighur genocide, calling it part of China's 'different norms'

Biden appears to downplay Uighur genocide, calling it part of China's 'different norms'
US President Joe Biden has made controversial comments appearing to excuse China's genocide of Uighurs, saying that it was part of the Asian country's 'different norms'..
3 min read
18 February, 2021
Biden spoke at a CNN town hall meeting in the US state of Wisconsin [AFP]

US President Joe Biden has made controversial comments regarding China's genocide against its Uighur Muslim minority, appearing to shrug it off as part of the Asian country’s "different norms".

His comments stand in contrast to those of his Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, who has said he agrees with the previous US administration's assessment that Beijing's persecution of Uighurs in the Xinjiang region of western China constitues genocide.

Rights groups say more than one million Uighurs and other Muslim Turkic-speaking people have been rounded up and held in detenition camps.

A recent BBC report revealed that women had been  systematically raped and sexual abused in the camps – something which the Biden administration's State Department has condemned.

Biden made his controversial remarks on "different norms" at a CNN town hall meeting in the state of Wisconsin on Tuesday, where he discussed details of a recent conversation with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

"If you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been, the time when China has been victimised by the outer world is when they haven’t been unified at home," Biden said.

He then appeared to excuse China's current treatment of its ethnic minorities.

"So the central — well, vastly overstated — the central principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that."

Biden continued by saying that he would not "speak out" against China's genocide of the Uighurs

"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… And so the idea that I am not going to speak out against what he’s doing in Hong Kong, what he’s doing with the Uighurs in western mountains of China and Taiwan — trying to end the one China policy by making it forceful … [Xi] gets it."

Biden concluded by saying that China had "different norms".

"Culturally there are different norms that each country and their leader are expected to follow," he said.

Read also:  In a word - How does Uighur 'genocide' designation affect US policy?

Biden's remarks appear to send a very different message from his election campaign pledges to defend human rights against oppressive regimes worldwide.

Boris Epshteyn, a strategic advisor to the Trump 2020 presidential campaign called out Biden, saying his statement was "horrible".

While Biden did say there would be "repercussions" for China over the Uighur genocide, he said that the US would only be a "spokesperson" for human rights at the UN and "other agencies that has had an impact on [China's] attitude".

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