According to two Trump administration officials, the United States is considering designating the repression of Muslim minority Uyghurs in China a "genocide," reports Politico.
The genocide designation has been pushed for by both lawmakers and activists for months, though consideration by the US government could potentially further damage the already shaky relationship between the two countries.
The discussion involves officials in the National Security Council, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security. If the officials do not come to a consensus, other terms that could be considered to describe the actions of the Chinese government include "ethnic cleansing" and "crimes against humanity."
The news comes in the midst of the presidential campaign and according to a Joe Biden spokesperson, the former vice president is for the label.
Communist leaders in China have been accused by White House national security advisor Robert O’Brien of running "concentration camps" in Xinjiang for Uyghurs.
In 2018, a United Nations human rights panel member claimed China "turned the Uyghur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp." It is believed that over one million Uyghurs are held in these facilities.
The Chinese government has also been accused by Uyghur right groups of torturing Uyghurs in a number of ways.
Genocide declarations can be legally tough to follow through with and are politically sensitive. They have been avoided by US officials at times because technically, international law could compel a form of American intervention.
It was not confirmed or denied by State Department spokespeople that the label is being discussed.
"We are working hard to encourage the People's Republic of China to cease its human rights abuses in Xinjiang and are constantly evaluating various measures," said a spokesperson. "We do not comment on potential actions."