Biden and the Uyghurs

Rationalizing a communist regime's monstrosities.

President Joe Biden is so much in the tank for the Chinese regime that he is making excuses for the regime’s horrendous treatment of the Uyghurs, the mostly Muslim ethnic minority living in northwestern China. When asked about the human rights abuses against the Uyghurs during his townhall meeting hosted by CNN on February 17th, Biden chalked the problem up to Chinese history and cultural norms.

Biden said that when China “has been victimized by the outer world is when they haven't been unified at home.” Biden went on to explain that “the central principle of [Chinese President] Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China.” And then, in a nod to cultural relativism, Biden declared, "Culturally, there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow.”

In other words, forget about universal inalienable human rights, which no government can take away. Biden has opted instead for the notion that each government gets to define human rights for its people that correspond with its country’s own cultural “norms.”

China has detained over 1 million Uyghurs in what amounts to concentration camps, where they have been subjected to gang rape, sterilization, and torture. Xi called the Uyghurs “criminals” who must be remolded and transformed. The purpose of China’s “re-education” of ethnic minorities such as the Uyghurs, Xi said, was to guide “all ethnic groups on establishing a correct perspective on the country, history and nationality.”

Biden said during his town hall meeting that he told Xi he would speak out against what Xi is “doing with the Uyghurs in western mountains of China.” However, when given the opportunity to condemn China’s ethnic cleansing of the Uyghurs, Biden took a pass. He could have stood by his own Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s affirmation that China is committing genocide against the Uyghurs. But Biden did not do so.

Instead, Biden explained away China’s actions as reflecting the need to tighten control in the country in order to prevent disunity. It’s just a matter of understanding China’s own cultural “norms” that its leaders “are expected to follow.” Presumably this would include ensuring, as Xi said, that all ethnic groups have “a correct perspective on the country, history and nationality.”

These justifications could just as easily have been used to rationalize Nazi Germany’s genocide against the Jews. Adolf Hitler ranted against the Treaty of Versailles, which he claimed had subjugated Germany. The Nazi proclamation to the German people stated in 1933: “The [Nazi] government will regard its first and supreme task to restore to the German people unity of mind and will. It will preserve and defend the foundations on which the strength of our nation rests.” Jews, Hitler insisted, undermined the German nation’s foundations and had to be eliminated. The Chinese regime has not yet gone as far as Germany and wiped out the Uyghur population, but they are eliminating the Uyghurs’ distinct religious and cultural practices.

Biden said at his town hall meeting that China must fix its human rights problems if it wants to “gain the confidence of other countries” and take on the “moniker” of  “world leader.” That’s naïve, to say the least. China received support for the way it is handling the Uyghurs in a letter signed by 37 countries, including such Muslim nations as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

China is buying good will with other countries through its massive Belt and Road Initiative. China is also using what money can buy and its own brand of diplomacy to co-opt major international forums, including at the United Nations. The World Health Organization is practically a Chinese subsidiary. China has a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, where it bands together with other autocratic members of the Council to back each other up against criticisms of their atrocious human rights records.

Biden said at the town hall meeting that he had sought to make clear to China’s President Xi 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.” The joke is on Biden. Xi has managed to turn the attitudes of globalist organizations like the UN towards the Chinese regime’s way of thinking.

“Under Xi, China now actively seeks to shape international norms and institutions and forcefully asserts its presence on the global stage,” wrote the Council on Foreign Relations’ Elizabeth C. Economy. With his “strategic patience” approach to dealing with China, Biden is not likely to reverse this trend.

Biden told CNN’s town hall audience that “I shouldn't try to talk China policy in 10 minutes on television here.” It would have taken him less than a minute. Biden’s policy toward China can be summarized in a few words. It is to treat China as a competitor, not as America’s chief adversary. It is to use tough rhetoric at times for show, but not to rock the boat with tough measures in response to China's provocative actions.  

The Biden administration has rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate change and reengaged with the World Health Organization, both of which China has been adept at manipulating. The Biden administration inexplicably withdrew a rule proposed during the prior administration that would have required universities to disclose their financial ties to Confucius Institutes, China’s propaganda arm at U.S. campuses. Biden’s choice to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, gave a speech praising China at one of the Confucius Institutes two years ago, which she now says she regrets.

The Biden administration has also backed off the Trump administration’s attempts to ban the app TikTok on national security grounds, as well as a proposed U.S. takeover of TikTok’s operations in the U.S. to ensure that Americans' personal data did not get into the wrong hands.

At least, the Biden administration has not rolled back all of the Trump administration’s tough measures against China – yet. Decisions are awaiting what the Biden administration calls a thorough strategic review of U.S.-China relations. But recall that it was only a couple of years ago when Biden said about China: “They’re not bad folks.”

Also, don’t forget about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who reportedly cashed in while his father was the point person on Obama-Biden administration policy towards China. Hunter still maintains a holding in a Chinese investment firm, which he is "working to unwind,” according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. What’s taking so long? Hunter's slow motion unwinding is going on while his father is reassessing U.S.-China relations. 

President Biden warned recently that the Chinese “are going to eat our lunch” if we don’t get moving on rebuilding our infrastructure. With Biden in the White House, the Chinese are more likely to eat our breakfast, lunch, and dinner for starters.

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