US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has officially declared China's treatment of Uyghurs in East Turkestan to be "crimes against humanity" and a "genocide" in a press release published on Tuesday.
"After careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that since at least March 2017, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has committed crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang," Pompeo said in a press release.
"In addition, after careful examination of the available facts, 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," the statement continues.
The move comes one day before President Donald Trump, who brought concerns about China to the forefront of American foreign policy, is set to vacate the White House for Joe Biden.
With the declaration, the US has become the second country to describe China's policies against Uyghurs as a genocide, following in the footsteps of Canada's Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights which designated China's conduct as a genocide in October.
"[This] is the largest mass detention of a minority community since the Holocaust," the committee declared.
The Chinese government has detained millions of Uyghurs in concentration camps in the northwestern end of the country. The Chinese government subjects detainees to forced labour, cultural reprogramming, forced sterilization, torture, and a variety of other human rights abuses. Many western companies such as Nike have reportedly profited from such human rights abuses.
"These crimes are ongoing and include: the arbitrary imprison mentor other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement," the press release reads.
"The United States calls upon the PRC immediately to release all arbitrarily detained persons and abolish its system of internment, detention camps, house arrest and forced labor; cease coercive population control measures, including forced sterilizations, forced abortion, forced birth control, and the removal of children from their families; end all torture and abuse in places of detention; end the persecution of Uyghurs and other members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China, and afford Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities the freedom to travel and emigrate."
The statement calls upon other nations and leaders to join the United States to "promote accountability for those responsible for these atrocities."
"The United States, on its part, has spoken out and taken action, implementing a range of sanctions against senior CCP leaders and state-run enterprises that fund the architecture of repression across Xinjiang," Pompeo boasted.
The Biden campaign had already described China's actions in East Turkestan as a genocide in October of last year, indicating that there will likely be continuation of the designation after Trump leaves office on Wednesday.