The Chinese government's oppressive and discriminatory treatment of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in the northwest region of Xinjiang is "genocide" and former US Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden "stands against it in the strongest terms", the Biden campaign has said.
The statement assumes significance as many countries and international organisations have repeatedly criticised China over its treatment of its people in the country, especially in Xinjiang and Tibet.
While Beijing has vehemently denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have surfaced, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party's brutal crackdown on the ethnic community, Axios reported.
Genocide is a serious crime under international law and the US government has adopted the term on rare occasions only after extensive documentation. Some experts said reports of mass surveillance, torture, arbitrary detentions and forced detentions employed by China against Uyghurs amounts to "demographic genocide".
Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates initially gave the statement in response to a report by Politico, which reported that the Trump administration is planning to formally label China's actions in Xinjiang as genocide, according to Axios.
"The unspeakable oppression that Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have suffered at the hands of China's authoritarian government is genocide and Joe Biden stands against it in the strongest terms. If the Trump administration does indeed choose to call this out for what it is, as Joe Biden already did, the pressing question is what will Donald Trump do to take action. He must also apologize for condoning this horrifying treatment of Uyghurs," Bates was quoted as saying.
Top Trump administration officials have publicly denounced China's treatment of the Uyghurs and the Treasury Department has slapped sanctions on a number of Chinese officials and entities involved in human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Both the Trump and Biden campaign have hit out at each other over who is "tougher" than China during campaigning for the presidential election.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo described the ethnic cleansing of the Uyghurs as the "stain of the century" and condemned it as "a human rights violation on a scale we have not seen since the Second World War," according to the Voice of America.
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