The Biden administration did not give a clear answer Monday regarding whether they still believe communist China is continuing its genocide against Uyghur Muslims and other religious minorities in Xinjiang.
When asked about imposing costs on China for its genocide, State Department spokesman Ned Price responded, “Well, to put a fine point on it, the Secretary has made clear that in his judgment, genocide was committed against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.”
A few moments later, Associated Press reporter Matt Lee questioned Price over his use of the word “was,” and whether that represented a belief by the administration that the genocide was no longer happening.
During the exchange that Price had with Lee, which is featured below, Price was not clear over what the administration’s stance was (transcript provided via the State Department):
QUESTION: Can I ask you a grammatical question just about your response to the – Kylie’s first question when you said that genocide – that the Secretary’s determined that genocide was committed? Is it the administration’s belief that this is not an ongoing thing?
MR PRICE: So Secretary Blinken, in his confirmation hearings, made that judgment.
QUESTION: No, no, no – I get. The question is the tense. Do you think – do you think it only happened in the past, or is it continuing now?
MR PRICE: So the Secretary made clear that, in his judgment, genocide was committed against Uyghurs, and we’re using that tense.
QUESTION: That’s exactly my question.
MR PRICE: We’re using that tense because the Secretary was speaking in the context of his confirmation hearings at that moment in time.
QUESTION: Well can you say now, today? That was a month ago.
MR PRICE: These – the questions of genocide, questions of crimes against humanity, these are always questions that our bureaus are looking at – it’s not only the Department of State but also our interagency partners – are looking closely at to form an assessment as to whether these are ongoing.
QUESTION: Well —
MR PRICE: At that moment in time, it was the judgement of Secretary Blinken that genocide had been committed in Xinjiang, just as it was the judgment of Secretary Pompeo, as I understand it, that genocide was committed.
QUESTION: Yes. So is it fair to say that the situation that is happening right now is under review, and so it is not —
MR PRICE: It is —
QUESTION: Like, you have not determined that it is continuing to happen?
MR PRICE: I would – I would make the point that these reviews are always ongoing. It is not that we have to formally initiate a review. Relevant entities, whether it is GCJ, whether it’s EAP, whether it’s our Legal Adviser’s Office, are always evaluating information as we get it. And so, of course, we are closely evaluating, analyzing what may be going on in the ground in Xinjiang, elsewhere in China, elsewhere around the world.