China's Uighur detention camps 'stain of the century': US Secretary of State

US leaders blast China’s persecution of Uighur Muslims

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- At a conference for religious freedom in Washington D.C., U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at China yesterday (July 18) over the human rights abuses it is committing against the Muslim Uighur minority.

Speaking on the final day of the conference, Secretary Pompeo told attendees that “China is home to one of the worst human rights crises of our time; it is truly the stain of the century,” referring to the detention of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang (新疆) province.

The conference was attended by representatives from 106 countries, despite the fact that Chinese authorities had attempted to pressure certain nations not to attend, reported Reuters. Pompeo lauded the countries that defied Chinese pressure, saying also that “if you have declined to attend for the same reason (as China), we take note.”

China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) issued a response shortly after Pompeo’s speech, claiming that “in China this situation of so-called religious persecution does not exist.” Lu added “We demand that the United States correctly view China’s religious policies and the status of religious freedom in China, and stop using the issue of religion to interfere in other countries’ affairs.”

Pompeo was not the only U.S. official to sternly criticize China’s abuse of the Uighur people. Speaking at the same event, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called for the U.S. to act, stating that “unless we are willing to speak out against the violations of religious freedom in China we lose all moral authority to talk about it any other place in the world.” Pelosi also called for Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo (陳全國) to be sanctioned for the detention of minorities in the province.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence echoed Pompeo’s message, reiterating that “whatever comes of our negotiations with Beijing, you can be assured that the American people will stand in solidarity with people of all faith in the People’s Republic of China.”

The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination estimates that up to 2 million Uighurs and other minorities have been detained in “political camps for indoctrination.” Detainees are kept in “re-education camps” aimed at indoctrination and stripping them of their cultural identity.