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President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the State Department called China’s actions against Uyghur Muslims a genocide and said President Trump was “right in taking a tougher approach to China.”
In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Secretary of State-designate Antony Blinken endorsed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement made earlier in the day that the U.S. will classify China’s treatment of Uyghurs as a “genocide.”
“That would be my judgment as well,” Blinken told the panel.
“On the Uyghurs, I think we’re very much in agreement,” he said.
China has imprisoned over one million Uyghurs in internment camps and has implemented a program of forced sterilizations for Uyghur women.
Blinkin, who worked at the State Department under then-Secretary of State John Kerry, praised President Trump for “taking a tougher approach to China” though he said he did not support the “way he went about it.”
“President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China,” Blinken said. “I disagree very much with the way he went about it in a number of areas, but the basic principle was the right one.”
The United States’ relationship with China has grown increasingly tense recently, as Trump blamed the Chinese government for the COVID-19 pandemic and grew frustrated with Beijing not holding up a partial trade deal it had previously agreed to.
Pompeo on Tuesday afternoon said that public opinion will require Biden to carry on the United States’ tougher stance on China.
“This challenge, the threat from the Chinese Communist Party, is real; it is existential to the United States,” he told Fox News. “I have great confidence that the American people have come to understand this challenge from the Chinese Communist Party and will expect every leader, whatever political stripe, to continue to protect and secure American freedoms.”