House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., declined Tuesday to take a stance on whether China is committing genocide against ethnic Uighur Muslims in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, telling “America Reports” that “I try to stay out of these foreign affairs matters.”
“I have not made that a particular endeavor of mine here in the Congress,” Clyburn told co-host Sandra Smith. “I listen to these things and I usually reserve comment when they are bordering on international issues, and I will today as well.”
Earlier Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he had determined the Beijing government “has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.
“I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese [Communist] party-state,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The governing authorities of the second most economically, militarily and politically powerful country on earth have made clear that they are engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group, even as they simultaneously assert their country as a global leader and attempt to remold the international system in their image.”
When asked by Smith if he supported Pompeo’s declaration, Clyburn responded: “I have not studied it either, you know, I don’t react to headlines. I tend to see exactly what leads to these headlines. You know, what’s got us in so much trouble in this country today is sound bites. People reacted to sound bites. And then we look at it [and] you see that that’s not what the substance is.”
Smith tried again by noting that President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, had stated that China is guilty of “horrendous human rights abuses.”
“How do you answer that question?” she asked.
“Well, once again, I’m going to see how these international issues — Pompeo is not one of my favorite people and doing something like this on the last day in office, [I] wish that transition had taken place in a normal way so that the Biden administration would be a part of these kinds of issues. To just do these kinds of things on the last day in office [is] putting people in real sensitive positions and trying to make it difficult for the incoming administration. I’m just not going to get into that.”
“But, as far as what you know, as far as the actions that China has taken, that President Xi [Jinping] has taken, do you believe that he is guilty of genocide, knowing what you know today?” Smith asked. “It’s incredibly important that we know where the incoming administration stands on that as well.
“You can ask me it as many times as you wish,” Clyburn answered. “I’m not going to get into that. I’m going to wait to see what an administration that I trust, what conclusions they come up with before I get into it. I’m not going to pass judgment on that.”
Clyburn’s non-committal stance appears to be at odds with the president-elect, whose campaign declared in August that China’s “unspeakable oppression” of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities “is genocide and Joe Biden stands against it in the strongest terms.”
The House Majority Whip’s non-answers drew a sharp response from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., who told Fox News in a statement: “Confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s genocide should be bipartisan. Americans ought to be united against a genocidal regime that rapes and tortures Uighurs. Human dignity isn’t a partisan issue.”