“I’ve been working on human rights in China for over 30 years since Tiananmen Square. It’s really important for the world to know that human rights are part of our value system,” Pelosi said during a press conference in response to a question by The Epoch Times.
Better protection of human rights around the world is also about “our national security, it’s about our military and our strength. It’s about our economy,” she said. “We cannot sacrifice one for the other.”
“I salute the administration for honoring our values. How we go about it, is just weighing the equities,” the House speaker said when asked about what policies the new administration should implement to change Beijing’s human rights practices.
“[No matter] what form that takes, I would hope that it would change some behavior in China vis-à-vis Hong Kong, Tibet, Uyghurs.”
President Joe Biden warned that Beijing would face “repercussions” for its human rights abuses during a town hall in Wisconsin on Feb. 16. He said the United States would reassert its role in speaking up for human rights at the United Nations and other agencies.
However, Biden came under fire for saying that “culturally, there are different norms in each country” when asked about Beijing’s repression of Uyghur Muslims in the far-western region of Xinjiang.
On Jan. 19, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated the Chinese regime’s persecution of Uyghurs as genocide and “crimes against humanity.” The Biden administration has agreed with the designation.
During his confirmation hearing last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stood by his predecessor’s determination that China is committing genocide in Xinjiang.
Beijing’s repression of Uyghurs, perpetrated through its network of internment camps and mass surveillance system, has drawn international condemnation. According to U.S. government estimates, more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups are held without charge in Xinjiang internment camps.
The Trump administration placed sanctions on entities and individuals responsible for atrocities in the region. It also imposed a ban on all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over forced labor practices.
“To designate China’s Xinjiang atrocity as genocide is no small feat. The new administration agrees with us, and that’s very reassuring,” Miles Yu, former senior China policy adviser to Pompeo, told The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders” program.
According to Yu, this designation is significant because it requires the new administration to formulate a wide range of both international and domestic policies to put pressure on the genocidal regime.
Pelosi said she was “proud of” the genocide designation as it sends a strong message to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It’s also a “strong statement” for the people who have been detained and persecuted by the CCP without any charge, she said.
“It’s important for us to speak out so that those people know that they are not forgotten.”
Pelosi also said that protection of human rights in China is a bipartisan issue, noting that many Republican lawmakers across the aisle, including Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and retired Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), “had been excellent on human rights throughout the world.”
“They’ve taken risks, they’ve gone to prison-labor camps to collect evidence so that we could make our case here.”