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China meltdown: Lashes out at Sen. Hawley in rare email attack

Xi Jinping speaks to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 28, 2017. (Ma Zhancheng/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)
October 27, 2022

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) elicited an angered email response from the Chinese Embassy on Monday after he introduced a bill to personally sanction Chinese leader Xi Jinping over China’s abuses of its Uyghur ethnic minorities.

Chinese officials have lashed out at the U.S. in the past, but this Chinese Embassy email to Hawley — which was obtained by Axios and published on Wednesday — is an unusually direct and personal attack. In the emailed letter, Chinese Embassy counselor Li Xiang called Hawley’s bill “arrogant and despicable.”

Last week, Hawley introduced the “Sanction Xi Jinping for Xinjiang Atrocities Act” which calls for the U.S. government to directly sanction Xi over the mass internment of ethnic minority Uyghurs.

International observers believe Chinese authorities are holding about 1.8 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minority members in so-called “re-education” facilities in China’s western Xinjiang region. U.S. officials have accused China’s government of committing genocide against the Uyghur population with “coercive population control measures” like forced sterilizations, abortions and birth control regimens.

“I am reaching out to express China’s strong indignation and serious concerns regarding Senator Hawley’s new bill Sanction Xi Jinping for Xinjiang Atrocities Act.” Li wrote in an emailed statement dated Monday, Oct. 24. “Filled with ideology bias, this bill not only grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs, but also points fingers at China’s top leadership during the 20th CPC National Congress. Senator Hawley’s action in disregard of global backlash is arrogant and despicable.”

Li also reiterated the standard Chinese government response to the accusations of genocide in Xinjiang, saying China’s efforts are focused on combatting terrorism.

“The issues related to Xinjiang are not about ethnicity, human rights or religion, but about anti-terrorism, anti-separatism and de-radicalization,” Li wrote.

Hawley’s bill notes the publication of the “Xinjiang Police Files” in May, which are purported leaked internal speeches, images, documents and spreadsheets from Chinese police networks describing the techniques used to control camp detainees.

In his response to Hawley, Li denounced the Xinjiang Police Files, saying they “were orchestrated and produced by the US and some Western forces and are completely illegal, null and void.” Li said the U.S. accusations that Chinese authorities are committing genocide is an “out-and-out lie.”

Li further added that U.S.-China relations “have met serious difficulties” and “the root cause lies in the fact that the US side has continued the wrong policy towards China adopted by the previous administration, and treats China as ‘the most consequential geopolitical challenge.’”

“President Biden has repeatedly pledged that the U.S. will not attack the [Chinese Communist Party], not seek a ‘new Cold War’, and not seek to change China’s political system,” Li wrote. “The U.S. side should abide by the commitments with consistent and concrete actions.”

“The Chinese side urges Senator Hawley to abandon the Cold-War zero-sum mentality and ideological prejudice against China, look at CPC and Chinese government’s Xinjiang policy correctly, stop the advancement of this bill, stop any attack and smear against CPC and Chinese leadership, stop any action to undermine China’s sovereignty and security, and stop moving even further down the wrong and dangerous path,” Li added.

Hawley responded to the Chinese official’s letter in a Tweet on Thursday morning, saying, “Somebody’s sensitive: after I proposed sanctioning Xi personally for the CCP genocide against the Uyghurs, Beijing lost its marbles, called the Uyghurs terrorists and demanded I retract the bill. Not going to happen. Read their email to me.”