United States Becomes First Country in World to Declare China's Uighur Treatment Genocide

The United States became the first country to officially declare Chinese government of Uighur Muslims an act of "genocide," announcing findings Tuesday which found China's policies toward the minority group are "crimes against humanity."

Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said U.S. investigation into the Chinese Communist Party's treatment of ethnic and religious minorities found overwhelming evidence China has committed genocide against the Xinjiang region Uighurs. Pompeo said "we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state" in his Tuesday statement. The announcement is seen as a final scathing blow between outgoing President Donald Trump and Beijing and responds to legislation Congress passed on December 27 requiring the U.S. to determine if forced labor or other alleged crimes were taking place against the Muslim minorities of China.

"After careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that the PRC, under the direction and control of the CCP, has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang," Pompeo said in a statement.

Update: During Tuesday Senate confirmation hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's cabinet, secretary of state nominee Antony Blinken said he agrees with Pompeo's "genocide" designation against China.

Pompeo said "these crimes are ongoing" against the Uighur people, referred to in several countries as the "Uyghur" people. The U.S. State Department determined that genocidal acts have been committed in the Xinjiang region since at least March 2017. International activist groups and foreign leaders have condemned China for having complexes in Xinjiang described as, "vocational training centers." These sites are used to stamp out extremist opinions and to teach people new "skills," which many critics have likened to concentration camps.

"The Chinese Communist Party is not our friend," Pompeo added as words of warning to his successors in the incoming Joe Biden administration. He made a point of reiterating that the U.S. did not make the decision to identify the genocide lightly or for political purposes.

The U.S. probe of crimes against humanity in China have received public support from many members of Congress who have chastised American companies for doing business with the Chinese.

"Reports indicate that the Chinese government is sponsoring forced labor camps for its Uyghur people in support of nearly 100 global brands, including Nike, Apple, Samsung, Volkswagen, and Huawei. This is absolutely horrifying. Protecting human rights is far more important than protecting profit. The world—including business leaders—cannot turn a blind eye toward the Chinese Communist Party's treatment of Uyghurs," Romney posted to Facebook in March.

International political leaders and factions such as Britain's Labour party have publicly condemned China's alleged crimes against the Uyghur people, but Pompeo's address solidified the U.S. as the first nation to officially accuse the Communist Party of genocide.

This story is developing, please check back with Newsweek shortly for additional information.

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An old Uyghur is tested at a temperature checkpoint on June 29, 2020 in Kuqa, China. DAVID LIU / Contributor/Getty Images