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The prime minister of East Turkistan’s government in-exile, Salih Hudayar, is sounding the alarm on what an incoming Biden administration might mean for the Uyghur people in the northwest Chinese province officially recognized as Xinjiang.
With Tony Blinken poised to take the helm of the State Department in the Biden White House, Hudayar said U.S. support for the Uyghur people appears in jeopardy considering Blinken’s past statements in support of the Chinese crackdown on the minority Muslim population where the government claimed it was combating terrorism prior to constructing concentration camps. Millions of Uyghur people remain in such camps today.
“We’re actually quite worried,” Hudayar told The Federalist Tuesday, referring to a potential Blinken State Department. Blinken previously expressed support of China’s efforts to excuse the completion of its re-education camps under the guise of fighting extremism a half decade ago.
“At that time, Anthony Blinken stated that China was doing the right thing and that the U.S. supported China’s efforts to fight against terrorism … And this worries us,” he said.
While serving as deputy secretary of state in the Obama-Biden administration in 2015, Blinken praised China’s counterterrorism efforts saying Beijing, “warily guards against the growing pull of extremist ideology among its youth.” Now the communist regime has employed brutal persecution of the Muslim minority featuring barbaric methods such as forced sterilization and slave labor.
“It took us years to just get the international community’s attention about these atrocities,” Hudayar said, who escaped the Xinjiang province to the United States as a child. Governments knew, Hudayar clarified, but the public did not. With Blinken in line to take the reins of U.S. foreign policy, Uyghur anxiety remains high.
“We fear that it’s just going to give China the green light to continue its brutal campaign of colonization, genocide, and occupation in East Turkistan,” Hudayar said of an apologist policy towards China.
The reality for East Turkistan today presents a dystopian nightmare. Hudayar emphasized that if one is lucky enough to avoid the concentration or slave labor camps, they still live inside a coercive police state where each daily activity is closely monitored by Chinese officials with high tech digital equipment even outfitted in small villages.
Hudayar also took particular aim at American corporations recently employing their teams of Washington lobbyists to water down bipartisan legislation meant to crack down on slave labor, which was overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives in September. Corporate giants such as Apple, Nike, and Coca-Cola are lobbying to weaken the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act which prohibits import products manufactured with the use of Chinese slave labor, according to the New York Times. While the companies claim they are merely suggesting amendments to the legislation citing Chinese obstacles to compliance, Hudayar said their excuses for pushing back against the bill held no merit.
“They’re just trying to, thinking from a strictly business perspective, maximize their profits,” Hudayar said, noting that even paying for teams of auditors to certify the integrity of their products could cost a good chunk of change.
Each company has denied employing slave labor to make their products in China, though a March report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute naming 82 companies potentially benefiting either directly or indirectly from forced labor in programs in Xinjiang has listed Apple and Nike among them. Another report published by Congress in the same month identified Nike and Coca-Cola as suspected of benefiting from forced labor in East Turkistan.
Despite corporate denials, Hudayar said their lobbying activity served as a giveaway to their suspected overseas operations.
“If they weren’t using forced labor, why are they pushing against this bill?”
Tristan Justice is a staff writer at The Federalist focusing on the 2020 presidential campaigns. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at Tristan@thefederalist.com.