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The U.S. State Department released a statement Tuesday denouncing the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in the Xinjiang province as “genocide” and “crimes against humanity.”
The statement alleges that “since at least March 2017, the People’s Republic of China, under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party,” has committed an ongoing series of crimes including arbitrary imprisonment, separating children from their families, and forced sterilization and abortions for Uighur women. It also accuses President Xi Jinping of hiding the “atrocities” by “obfuscation, propaganda and coercion.”
According to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, these actions constitute genocide.
“We are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state,” the statement says, accusing China of being “engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group, even as they simultaneously assert their country as a global leader and attempt to remold the international system in their image.”
I have determined that the People’s Republic of China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China, targeting Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 19, 2021
Uighur activist groups have also formally alleged that genocide is taking place, submitting documents that were at the core of ICIJ’s China Cables investigation as evidence in a complaint filed to the International Criminal Court in July.
China Cables confirmed, among other things, that Uighur camps are involuntary indoctrination centers and that Chinese officials use a sprawling mass-surveillance system to isolate Xinjiang from the rest of the world.
Pompeo’s statement also calls for China to abolish its system of internment camps, forced labor and population control measures, and to “afford Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities the freedom to travel and emigrate.”
It’s the harshest denunciation yet by the Trump administration, which has previously authorized sanctions against China over the mass detention of Uighurs, sanctioned four top Chinese officials considered the architects of the country’s internment camps, and imposed trade restrictions on dozens of Chinese companies that are believed to have a role in the crackdown against the Muslim minority.
Declaring the situation a “genocide” is a signficant final word against Beijing by the Trump administration, ending months of speculation.
“Uyghurs are set to benefit since this determination has binding implications for the U.S.,” Andrian Zenz, a researcher on China’s ethnic policy and internment campaign in Xinjiang, said on Twitter.
The statement comes the day before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, whose campaign denounced China’s actions as genocide in a statement in August 2020. At the time, the Biden campaign accused President Donald Trump of “condoning this horrifying treatment.”
This is the latest in a series of worldwide efforts to pressure the Chinese government over its treatment of the Uighurs. On Jan. 12, Canada announced new regulations barring exports to China of products that “could be used by Chinese authorities for surveillance, repression, arbitrary detention or forced labour.”
The same day, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced measures including fines for businesses that “fail to demonstrate adequate due diligence in ensuring their supply chains are free from forced labor.” And one day later, the United States banned imports of cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang.
In December, the European Union adopted a resolution condemning China’s actions and calling for member states to “swiftly evaluate the adoption of sanctions” against Chinese officials, but stopping short of characterizing it as genocide.
China has long denied accusations of human rights abuses against Uighurs.
“The so-called ‘genocide’ is a rumor deliberately started by some anti-China forces and a farce to discredit China,” a Chinese embassy spokesperson told Reuters Thursday after the Congressional-Executive Commission on China released a report stating that “crimes against humanity – and possibly genocide – are occurring” in Xinjiang.
The post China’s actions in Xinjiang ‘constitute genocide,’ US says appeared first on ICIJ.
A good-government watchdog is calling on secretary of state nominee Antony Blinken to disclose any foreign-funding sources for the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Biden Center, where Blinken served as director, as part of his Senate confirmation vetting process.
The National Legal and Policy Center (NPLC) is arguing that any foreign money that made its way into the Penn Biden Center could pose a conflict of interest for Blinken, who served as the center’s director from 2017 to 2019 and received a more than $79,000 salary, according to his financial-disclosure records. The watchdog group said the university also saw a significant spike in contributions from China after the Penn Biden Center opened in 2017, raising questions about whether the funding had any connection to the policy center.
While President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to tighten ethics standards for his incoming administration, the Penn Biden Center’s lack of financial candor raises questions about the Biden cabinet’s commitment to transparency as Blinken testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday afternoon.
“The Penn Biden Center is the poster child for revolving-door conflicts of interest,” said Tom Anderson, director of the NPLC’s Government Integrity Project. “It’s time they disclose their donors and allow the American people the opportunity to evaluate whether any lines have been crossed.”
The Penn Biden Center was founded by Joe Biden at the University of Pennsylvania in 2017. Biden’s other policy-research institute at the University of Delaware has faced similar criticism over a lack of transparency and has no plans to disclose its donors after the president-elect takes office. Both organizations have served as cabinets-in-waiting, employing former Biden advisers who are now expected to join his administration.
Stephen MacCarthy, a spokesman for the University of Pennsylvania, told the Washington Free Beacon that the Penn Biden Center “is funded entirely with University funds” and doesn’t engage in fundraising.
“The University has never solicited any gifts for the Center. Since its inception in 2017 there have been three unsolicited gifts (from two donors) which combined total $1,100. Both donors are Americans,” said MacCarthy.
MacCarthy declined to discuss additional details of the center’s funding, or the sudden spike in donations from China, on the record.
Foreign contributions to the University of Pennsylvania tripled since the Penn Biden Center’s soft opening in March 2017, rising from $31 million in 2016 to over $100 million in 2019. The largest foreign contributor was China, which significantly increased its gifts to the university after the Penn Biden Center opened.
The University of Pennsylvania took in around $61 million in gifts and contracts from China between 2017 and 2019, according to records from the Department of Education. This was a substantial uptick from the prior four years, when the university received $19 million from China.
Many of the Chinese contributions were listed as coming from “anonymous” sources, according to the university’s disclosure records. Between March 2017 and the end of 2019, the university received a total of $22 million in anonymous gifts from China—a spike from less than $5 million during the preceding four years.
Blinken’s work outside of the Penn Biden Center also involved China and university funding.
Blinken cofounded the consulting firm WestExec, which helped U.S. universities raise money from China without running afoul of Pentagon grant requirements, the Free Beacon reported last month. WestExec scrubbed the details of this work from its website over the summer.
Anderson said his group is preparing to file a supplement to a Department of Justice complaint filed against the University of Pennsylvania last year.
The NLPC’s complaint asked the DOJ to look into whether the University of Pennsylvania or the Penn Biden Center violated the Foreign Agent Registration Act by accepting foreign funding in exchange for promoting the interests of foreign governments. Anderson said the new complaint will include Blinken’s work assisting universities that receive funding from China.
Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that the committee will likely vote on Blinken’s confirmation on Monday.
The post Watchdog Calls for Transparency from University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.
Outgoing secretary of state Mike Pompeo made the determination Wednesday that China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity because of its systematic oppression of its Uighur population.
The State Department says the Chinese government has systematically imprisoned, oppressed, and committed genocide against the Uighur population, an ethnic minority group that has been forced into labor camps in the country’s Xinjiang province. Humanitarian organizations have provided evidence that China forcefully sterilizes the population and abducts children born to Uighur families.
“Beijing’s atrocities in Xinjiang represent an extreme affront to the Uyghurs, the people of China, and civilized people everywhere,” Pompeo said. “We will not remain silent. If the Chinese Communist Party is allowed to commit genocide and crimes against humanity against its own people, imagine what it will be emboldened to do to the free world, in the not-so-distant future.”
The last-minute foreign-policy declaration by the outgoing administration is certain to anger Beijing and complicate the Biden administration’s diplomacy with the communist regime. Determinations of this nature are extremely rare and compel the U.S. government to document the crimes and take appropriate action, including sanctions.
China’s crimes include the arbitrary imprisonment of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture, forced labor, and religious oppression, according to the State Department. These actions have been taken by the Communist Party since at least 2017.
“I have determined that the PRC, under the direction and control of the CCP, has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” Pompeo said. “I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.”
The State Department has been weighing the determination for some time, and bipartisan delegations of lawmakers in Congress have pressed the department to designate China as engaging in genocide.
The State Department says it will continue to investigate China’s crimes and hold the country accountable for the mass atrocities.
The post China Committing Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, State Department Says appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.
The State Department has cut ties with Islamic Relief Worldwide, an international charity that the United States accuses of spreading anti-Semitism. The public accusations represent a wholesale shift in how the United States approaches a global charity that was, until recently, an official partner of the American government and raked in hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars.
The State Department is “conducting a full review of the organization and U.S. government funding” due to the “anti-Semitism exhibited repeatedly by IRW’s leadership,” Ellie Cohanim, the deputy special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, told the Washington Free Beacon.
IRW boasts a budget of more than $100 million annually and has a registered nonprofit arm in the United States. The State Department’s public reproach of the charity means that it will no longer enjoy the legitimacy that comes with a close relationship with the American government or be able to cash in from this stamp of approval.
Anti-Semitism watchdogs have been sounding the alarm on IRW for years. IRW was an official State Department partner in the Obama administration and, for a time, in the Trump administration, despite evidence the group’s senior leadership engaged in persistent anti-Semitism, including social media posts from the organization’s senior leaders praising Hamas leaders and calling Jews the “grandchildren of monkeys and pigs.” Israel has designated IRW as a supporter of terrorism. The outgoing administration’s decision to publicly chastise the charity sets down a marker for the Biden White House as it assesses U.S. humanitarian priorities abroad. The next administration could restore ties with IRW, though it is unlikely given the current State Department’s rare elevation of anti-Semitism claims against the organization.
“Now that the State Department has issued this warning about the anti-Semitic Islamic Relief, it would be a very worrying step back if the incoming Biden administration, like Trump, rejected European concerns and started to fund this dangerous charitable franchise once more,” said Sam Westrop, a Middle East researcher and director of Islamist Watch who has documented IRW’s promotion of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Westrop described the Trump administration’s last-minute move as a severe blow for IRW, speculating the group stands to lose millions in funding from Western governments, the United Nations, and the European Union—all of which have contributed at least $100 million to the charity in the past decade.
James Richardson, director of the State Department’s Office of Foreign Assistance, confirmed to the Free Beacon that IRW is no longer a partner charity. “Given what we know about IRW, the Department and USAID should act with extreme caution and avoid partnering with IRW in the future,” Richardson said, explaining the stakes for the Biden administration.
USAID, the American government’s leading charitable organization, will face pressure if it attempts to partner with IRW in the future. The State Department’s warning is also likely to alarm international donors to the charity and prompt them to question further donations to it.
The longstanding allegations against IRW drew congressional scrutiny in 2018, prompting the charity’s U.S. arm to issue a public letter to lawmakers refuting the claims and distancing itself from IRW’s more questionable branches outside of the United States.
IRW was founded in the United Kingdom in 1984 and has grown into one of the largest international charities, providing humanitarian services in more than 40 countries. Anti-Semitism charges have dogged the organization for years. Its suspected ties to the Muslim Brotherhood organization in Egypt also have raised red flags with officials in several European nations and Israel.
“Islamic Relief has worked hard to secure high-level political contacts and make friends in prominent media—all to help build up its benevolent façade and shroud its extremist agenda. With just the slightest of closer glances at Islamic Relief’s actual activities, however, that façade is now quickly crumbling away,” said Westrop.
An investigation spearheaded in July 2020 by Lorenzo Vidino, director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, exposed anti-Semitism among IRW’s top directors, trustees, managers, and senior leadership. It included social media postings by Heshmat Khalifa, an IRW trustee and director, calling Jews the “grandchildren of monkeys and pigs.” He also praised the terror group Hamas. Vidino’s investigation, published by the London Times, prompted Khalifa’s resignation, and later, the en masse resignation of IRW’s senior leadership. The report also played a significant role in the State Department’s decision to cut ties with IRW, officials said.
Subsequent investigations into the group found that IRW trustee Almoutaz Tayara, also the chair of Islamic Relief Germany, had posted several anti-Semitic screeds against the “Zionist enemy” and praising Hamas leaders as “great men.” Tayara retained his post with Islamic Relief Germany when the comments were revealed in a 2017 blog post, after he issued a public apology and deleted many of the most questionable posts. When his views resurfaced in 2020, IRW finally fired Tayara and he gave up his position at the German affiliate.
Vidino told the Free Beacon that since his report, governments across the globe have been reexamining their longstanding relationships with IRW.
“This was not an isolated episode, a couple of incidents,” he said. “The blatant anti-Semitism that large parts of the upper management of IRW have consistently displayed should disqualify them from any partnership with any government agency, irrespective of which administration is in the White House.”
The post State Department Cuts Ties With Islamic Charity Over Anti-Semitism appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.
Former New York State Democratic Party leader John Sullivan, who worked as the upstate coordinator for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) 2014 reelection campaign, received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) Florida, admitting he “probably wouldn’t have gotten it by now in New York.”
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