On Wednesday, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused President Joe Biden of repeating a Chinese propaganda talking point during a Tuesday town hall discussion that compared human rights abuses to cultural norms.
During his CNN town hall appearance, Biden spoke about a recent phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, in which he said they discussed a range of concerns with China, including the mass detention of Muslim minority Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Biden said, “The central principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united tightly-controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that. I pointed out to him, no American president can be sustained as a president if he doesn’t reflect the values of the United States. And so the idea, I’m not going to speak out against what he’s doing in Hong Kong, what he’s doing with the Uyghurs in Western mountains of China and Taiwan, the One-China policy by making it forceful. I said, and… He said… He gets it. Culturally, there are different norms at each country and their leaders are expected to follow.”
Pressed for further comment about China’s record on human rights abuses, Biden said, “There will be repercussions for China and [Xi} knows that” but did not elaborate on the repercussions and said “it’s much more complicated” and “I shouldn’t to try to talk China policy in 10 minutes on television.”
Speaking with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday, Pompeo criticized Biden’s characterization of China’s treatment of the Uyghurs as a difference in cultural norms.
“That language that it’s just a set of different norms, that’s the Chinese propaganda line,” Pompeo said. “They want you to think this is just a quiet nation [that] may have a little bit of a different system, but goodness gracious, what’s all the fuss about?”
In his final days as Secretary of State under President Donald Trump, Pompeo’s state department declared China’s actions against the Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang to be “genocide.”
“The truth of the matter is they are trying to wipe out an entire people,” Pompeo told Bartiromo.
Pompeo added, “To have President Biden go out and say he talked to Xi Jinping and Xi Jinping gets it, Maybe Xi Jinping gets the fact that now the administration is only going to talk about this and raise it quote, ‘because I have to talk about this,’ rather than take action.”
Under the Trump administration, Pompeo said the U.S. actively campaigned against China’s human rights abuses, including by raising the genocide declaration and sanctioning some of the Chinese officials determined to be connected to the human rights abuses in Xinjiang as well as concerns in Hong Kong and Tibet.
Pompeo said U.S. must “be honest and call out precisely” China’s human rights abuses.
While Pompeo criticized Biden’s town hall comments, the Biden campaign condemned China’s actions in Xinjiang in an August statement to Axios, saying, “The unspeakable oppression that Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have suffered at the hands of China’s authoritarian government is genocide and Joe Biden stands against it in the strongest terms.”
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Biden Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he agreed with the Trump administration assessment that China is committing genocide against the Uyghurs. “That would be my judgment as well,” Blinken said.