China Is Guilty of Committing an Ongoing Genocide, New Report Finds

A new report examining China’s treatment of the Uyghurs against the criteria in the 1948 Genocide Convention has been released. Based on all the evidence now available, it concludes that China is guilty of “an ongoing genocide against the Uyghurs”. The report comes amid heightened attention surrounding the issue from many states in the Western world.

The report, released by the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, is “the first independent expert application of the 1948 Genocide Convention to the ongoing treatment of the Uyghurs in China”. In the foreword, it recounts the “emerging accounts of serious and systematic atrocities in Xinjiang province”, which have recently been gaining traction around the world.

Assessing China’s treatment through the lens of the 1948 Genocide Convention is appropriate, because China has, by having become a state party to the Convention, explicitly accepted the standards and definitions within it and committed to following it. Although the report does not call for specific actions to be taken by states, the authors “stand prepared to share [the] information and analysis with relevant institutions or actors interested in [the] findings.” By showing China as violating the Genocide Convention, any actions by other states against China could be much more justifiable than in the absence of a systematic treatment of the issue, relying only on fragmented pieces of information.

The summary of the report states:

“This report concludes that the People’s Republic of China (China) bears State responsibility for committing genocide against the Uyghurs in breach of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) based on an extensive review of the available evidence and application of international law to the evidence of the facts on the ground.”

In its examination, the Institute needed to show the intent of China to carry out genocidal acts. This is a requirement stated in Article II of the Convention. Such intent does not need to be explicitly spelt out but can be inferred from the manner in which actions are undertaken or from the words used by the perpetrators.

Here, the authors point primarily to high-level statements of intent and of China’s general plan. President Xi Jinping’s “People’s War on Terror” starting in 2014 involved orders for officials to “round up everyone who should be rounded up ... wipe them out completely … destroy them root and branch”, and “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins.” This was applied to majority-Uyghur areas, with these statements referring largely to the ethnic group.

The report then goes on to list the “repeated destructive acts” committed against the Uyghurs since 2014:

These purposeful actions, according to the report, demonstrate the “intent to destroy the Uyghurs as a group,” as per the requirement in the Genocide Convention.

The next part lists the actions of China which would constitute acts of genocide. In Article II, the Convention lists five such acts, each of which is documented as having been part of the treatment of the Uyghurs:

The report lays the blame for these policies on the Chinese state “agents or organs - acting under the effective control of the State”. It sees China as bearing “State responsibility” for the “ongoing genocide”.

In recent weeks and months, the number of denunciations from all sides of Chinese actions against the Uyghurs has been increasing. A non-binding parliamentary motion in Canada described those actions as “genocide” in late February. The same conclusion was reached by the Dutch parliament several days later. A resolution was submitted in Belgium to recognize China’s abuses as “genocide” as well. Australia has continued to criticise China over the Uyghur situation despite their close trade ties, which have lately been on the decline.

In the UK, a legal opinion was recently reached by the Essex Court Chambers in London, presenting an “exhaustive legal assessment” of the available information and evidence regarding the treatment of the Uyghurs. Its findings include claims that “there is sufficient evidence to amount to an arguable case” to show “crimes against humanity being committed against the Uyghur population”. The opinion also alleges genocide, on similar grounds to the new report.

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