Dear Biden, China Needs More Than a Hand Slap for Genocide

Brenna Lewis - 23 Mar 2021


It’s not new knowledge that China has been committing human rights atrocities against a minority population of Muslims called Uyghurs. The Associated Press broke an explosive story in the summer of 2020 in which they noted, ‘[T]he campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of ‘demographic genocide.’

The full story, naturally, is complicated. But the conclusion stands: the Chinese government is engaged in a targeted genocide against Uyghur Muslims by use of forced abortion, sterilization, prison camps, and more. The motive is irrelevant; it’s a human rights atrocity carried out by a government against citizens. 

President Joe Biden has downplayed the genocide on multiple occasions (as has the Chinese Embassy in the U.S., who referred to the killings as “emancipation”).  Biden was filmed during a CNN town hall saying that genocide is just a ‘cultural norm’ there that we just don’t understand.

Politico reported, “The United States and its allies in Canada, Britain and the European Union on Monday announced sanctions on several Chinese officials alleged to have links to what U.S. officials say is a genocidal campaign against Uyghur Muslims.” So… what are sanctions and do they work?

Sanctions, in essence, are some sort of punishment one country applies to another to either encourage or discourage a certain behavior. These are often economic/financial. On the whole, they’re a fairly lukewarm attempt to elicit a change. Dan Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Tufts University School of Law and Diplomacy and author of “The Sanctions Paradox,” said the following in a 2018 NPR interview: “Even the best sanctions have at best a 50/50 shot of working.”

SO – forgive us for not being real quick to send the Biden Administration a Hallmark thank-you card for this symbolic, noodle-armed motion. When it’s blatantly obvious that a group of human beings is being forcibly annihilated, general complacency paired with the equivalent of a parking citation doesn’t really cut it.

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