Joe Biden Dismisses China's Brutality Toward Uyghurs as a Different Cultural Norm

Joe Biden’s town hall in Milwaukee Tuesday night was long on facepalm moments and short on coherent answers, as readers of this site will see in multiple pieces. One such moment – when Biden dismissed brutal, genocidal actions being taken by the Chinese government against Uyghurs, a religious and ethnic minority, went far beyond facepalm and was simply inhumane and despicable.


Biden’s comments came after he was asked about immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship. He made a huge unforced error when he wandered into talking about xenophobia and brought up a time when he predicted that China was going to end its One Child Policy within a year, blah blah blah. Anderson Cooper took that opening to ask Biden about his recent two-hour phone call with Xi Jinping and whether he talked about the Uyghurs (an act Cooper will likely feel harsh consequences for undertaking).

Beijing’s human rights violations and flat-out abuse of the country’s Uyghur minority has gone on for years. Right before leaving office, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo determined that Beijing’s actions constituted genocide, and on February 8 an independent legal opinion commissioned by a trio of human rights non-profit groups and published in the UK found there was a “credible case” that the Chinese government is carrying out genocide:

It concludes there is evidence of state-mandated behaviour showing an intent to destroy the largely Muslim minority in north-western China.

This includes the deliberate infliction of harm on Uighurs in detention, measures to prevent women giving birth – including sterilisation and abortion – and the forcible transfer of Uighur children out of their community.

And, significantly, it says there is a credible case that Chinese President Xi Jinping is himself responsible for these crimes against humanity. It states “the close involvement of Xi Jinping” in the targeting of Uighurs would support a “plausible” case of genocide against him.

It says: “On the basis of the evidence we have seen, this Opinion concludes that there is a very credible case that acts carried out by the Chinese government against the Uighur people in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region amount to crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide.”


Cooper asked Biden, “You just talked to China’s president….What about the Uyghurs? What about the human rights abuses?” Biden’s reply began:

“The Uy — we must speak up for human rights. It’s who we are – we can’t –“

What do you notice there? He did not utter the word “Uyghur.” Was that intentional or just because he can’t get his thoughts straight? Unsure. But Biden immediately pivoted to a defense of China:

I said, look — you know, Chinese leaders — if you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been — the time when China has been victimized by the outer world is when they haven’t been unified at home. So the central — well, vastly overstated. 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.

Okay, not off the rails too far. Casting China as having a history of being victimized by the outer world is a complicated assertion, to put it mildly, but is instructive of Biden’s mindset.

I point out to him, no American president can be sustained as a president if he doesn’t reflect the values of the United States.

Wait, what? For those in the back, who don’t understand something unless it’s spelled out slowly and over-enunciated, what Biden said in that passage is that when he’s talking with his buddy Xi Jinping and touchy subjects like genocide come up – because he has to bring them up so he can then tell the lapdog press that he did – that he understands that to keep the support of his people he has to do things that reflect the country’s values. And, apparently those values include genocide.


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, and the One China policy by making it forceful. I said – and by the – he said – he – he gets it. Culturally, there are different norms in each country, and they – their leaders are expected to follow.

In other words, Biden said, “Hey, Xi. I feel ‘ya. We both gotta keep our bitches in line in a culturally-appropriate way. Whatever you can get away with, man.” When Biden says “He gets it,” it means Xi Jinping gets that Biden has to say things a certain way on official phone calls but that it’s said with a wink and a nod.

Cooper made a weak attempt at pushing back, asking:

When you talked to him, though, about human rights abuses, is that as far as it goes in terms of the US, or is there any actual repercussions for China?

Read Biden’s answer carefully (emphasis added):

Well, there will be repercussions for China, and he knows that. What I’m doing is making clear that we, in fact, are going to continue to reassert our role as spokespersons for human rights at the UN and other agencies that have an impact on their attitude.

China is trying very hard to become the world leader, and to get that moniker and to be able to do that they have to gain the confidence of other countries. And as long as they’re engaged in activity that’s contrary to basic human rights, it’s going to be hard for them to do that.


There are some big messages in that answer. Again, Biden is saying that the repercussions are that representatives of the US government will report China’s naughtiness to the UN and other agencies. Those agencies impact China’s attitude because China is trying to be the – important word there – the world leader, and to do that, they have to change their activities.

Why would our President (or IPOTUS, as Mike Ford would say) care about helping China become *the* world leader? At the end of that answer, Biden said, “But it’s much more complicated than that. I shouldn’t try to talk China policy in 10 minutes on television.” Is it really much more complicated than that? I give you Exhibit A:

Not complicated at all.

And not for nothing, but where is Ilhan Omar on this issue? Does she not care about this type of Muslim?


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