Farmers harvest pomegranates in Pishan county of Hotan, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Oct 8, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]
The US accusations of "genocide" and "forced labor" in China's Xinjiang are "baseless rhetoric" by "American politicians or media pundits" in an attempt to contain China's development, experts said.
The administration of former United States president Donald Trump accused China in January of "genocide" regarding the treatment of Uygurs in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. On Tuesday, the administration of US President Joe Biden made the same accusation in its annual human rights report.
"There is clearly no reasonable basis to accuse China of 'genocide' in Xinjiang. Those elements in America wishing to stir up anti-China sentiment among our people rely upon the fact that very few Americans have any independent source of information about China," said Kenneth Hammond, a history professor at New Mexico State University.
Hammond, who specializes in Chinese history, has traveled in Xinjiang and in 2018 in Tibet. "In both places, I have seen the religious life of the people to be healthy and dynamic," he told China Daily.
"Few people in America speak or read Chinese. Americans have very little idea of the richness and dynamism of life in China, the happiness of the Chinese people, or their pride in the accomplishments of their country and their hopes for the future," he said.
The stories of "concentration camps" and "mass detention" depicted by US media are "designed to appeal to the human sympathies of ordinary American people", he said. The use of the term "genocide" is also meant to elicit an emotional response from Americans and others in the West, he added.
"All the posturing about human rights by American politicians is just hypocritical rhetoric," Hammond said. "Our country was built on the dispossession of the Indigenous population and their restriction to remote reservations and economic and social marginalization within American society. Our early economic development was fueled by the products of slave labor, and the legacies of slavery remain with us today in racism and inequality."
As to the accusation of "forced labor", he said, the vocational training programs to facilitate the inclusion of people of all ethnic backgrounds in the ongoing development of Xinjiang and the Chinese economy overall seem to be yielding positive results in employment growth.
"Accusations of 'forced labor' are regularly rebutted by the facts, but it is the accusations which get headlines, while the rebuttals are ignored," he said. "It seems to be the case that anti-China forces in the US will make the worst possible interpretation of any information coming out of China or being put out by other anti-China groups outside the country."
Margaret Kimberley is editor and a senior columnist of Black Agenda Report and a peace and justice issues activist in New York.
"The US government and its corporate media work together to create desired conditions, in this case, the destabilization of China," she said. "It is also obvious that there is far more continuity than difference from one presidential administration to the next. Biden's China policy is indistinguishable from Trump's, which shows that the US is committed to imperialism, and that means we have far less choice than people like to believe."
The US government misuses the term "genocide" in order to further its foreign policy interests, she said, adding that nothing in the UN definition of the word applies to the treatment of Xinjiang's Uygur population, but it does apply to acts committed in the US against Black people and other ethnic groups.
Activists have long accused the US of human rights violations, including systemic racism and a high criminal incarceration rate.
The stories of "forced labor" in Xinjiang are questionable, but there is proof that incarcerated people in the US are forced to work for little pay, Kimberley said. "They may do dangerous work such as fighting California wildfires for a maximum of $5.12 per day, but are prohibited from doing the same work upon their release," she said.
Human rights violations in the US are "well known and documented" but seldom discussed, she said, and this is because the mass incarceration and other human rights violations in the US depend upon "obfuscation and lies of omission".
"The ability to demonize other nations would be diminished if more people were aware of the crimes against humanity committed here. Baseless rhetorical attacks on other countries are also an integral part of this effort to disappear criminality committed domestically," she said. "Americans are more likely to support aggression if they believe their government is attacking a country they believe is evil."
On the other hand, Hammond said, "American elites are fearful that the long period of their global dominance is coming to an end, and they are lashing out at China to try to thwart, or at least slow down China's development and its emergence as a significant participant in global economic and political affairs."
"It would be better for everyone for American elites to devote their energies to finding ways for America to cooperate with China, to collaborate on building a better future, a more prosperous tomorrow, along with China," he said. "But, thus far, both Republicans and Democrats seem intent on trying to hold on to America's role as the 'sole superpower' and their fear of losing their dominance in global affairs is driving them to a counterproductive confrontation with China."