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Biden: China’s Genocide of Uighurs Just Different ‘Norms’

Over a million Uighurs and other minorities have been detained in camps in China; but to Biden, that's just different 'norms.'

US President Joe Biden holds a face mask as he participates in a CNN town hall at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 16, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

During President Joe Biden’s CNN town hall Tuesday evening, he dismissed the forcible interment, systematic rape, torture and genocide of the Uighur population in China, labelling what China is committing against the majority Muslim population a “different norm.”

Over a million Uighurs and other minorities have been detained in camps in China, according to estimates. The U.S. declared China’s actions “genocide” last month.

Biden said he is “not going to speak out against” the Chinese Communist Party’s actions in Hong Kong, in Taiwan, or their actions against the Uighurs.

“If you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been, the time when China has been victimized by the outer world is when they haven’t been unified at home,” said Biden. “So the central, well, vastly overstated, the central principle of [China’s President] 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.”

“I point out to [Chinese President Xi] no American president can be sustained as a president, if he doesn’t reflect the values of the United States,” said Biden. “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.”

“Culturally there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow,” Biden said.

Biden has a point; “norms” in China are very different from the United States. For instance, the BBC was banned in China last week for reporting on the systemic torture and rape occurring in Uighur concentration camps.

Asked at the CNN townhall if China will face consequences for the genocide, Biden responded that the U.S. will “reassert our role as spokespersons for human rights at the UN and other agencies.”

“Well, there will be repercussions for China and [Xi] knows that,” said Biden. “What I’m doing is, making clear that we, in fact, are going to continue to reassert our role as spokespersons for human rights at the UN and other agencies that have an impact on their attitude.”

“China is trying very hard to become the world leader. And to get that moniker and be able to do that, they have to gain the confidence of other countries. And as long as they are engaged in activity that is contrary to basic human rights, it’s going to be hard for them to do that,” he said.  “But it’s much more complicated than that, I shouldn’t try to talk China policy in 10 minutes on television here.”

In February, the State Department issued a statement that called China’s actions against the Uighurs “atrocities” that “shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences.”

The Trump administration designated them a genocide and Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said he agrees with that determination.

about the author

Barbara Boland is TAC’s foreign policy and national security reporter. Previously, she worked as an editor for the Washington Examiner and for CNS News. She is the author of Patton Uncovered, a book about General George Patton in World War II, and her work has appeared on Fox News, The Hill UK Spectator, and elsewhere. Boland is a graduate from Immaculata University in Pennsylvania.  Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC.

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