House Republicans are raising concerns about John Kerry over recent remarks he made on reaching a potential climate deal with China -- saying he trivialized the severity of the human rights abuses inflicted on Uyghur Muslims in the communist country.
Published: 2021-05-06 08:47 pm
Concerns John Kerry downplayed China human rights abuses to deal on climate
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House Republicans are raising concerns about John Kerry, President Biden’s special climate envoy, over recent remarks he made on reaching a potential climate deal with China — saying he trivialized the severity of the human rights abuses inflicted on Uyghur Muslims in the communist country. 

The criticisms of Kerry’s rhetoric come in the wake of his recent interview with Foreign Policy, where he said: “We have differences on economic rules, on cyber. We have other differences on human rights, geostrategic interests, but those differences do not have to get in the way of something that is as critical as dealing with climate.” 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have repeatedly condemned China’s forced labor camps, which have targeted Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region, with Congress having moved on multiple resolutions aimed at pushing back against the abuses.

(image)
Uyghur security personnel patrol near the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in western China’s Xinjiang region.
AP

But multiple Republicans on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs said they interpreted Kerry’s comments as a willingness to ignore the genocide of Muslim ethnic minorities to strike a climate deal. 

“Demanding the CCP stop committing genocide doesn’t ‘get in the way’ of climate change negotiations, and to imply climate issues are more critical than the lives of millions of oppressed people living in China is insensitive and improper,” Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told The Post in a statement.  

“I would urge Secretary Kerry to reconsider his priorities if he is going to continue to negotiate behind closed doors with human rights abusers and U.S. adversaries.”

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) called the comments “pathetic,” slamming the Biden administration’s climate plan as giving China an economic edge and potentially weakening the United States’ standing. 

“It is pathetic John Kerry is excusing the Chinese Communist Party’s disgusting enslavement and murder of the Uighurs to make this slimy climate arrangement possible,” he said. 

“The CCP are cheaters who never play by the rules, that is a fact. Our country should not get involved in a one-sided, disastrous climate plan that we know the CCP won’t follow and will weaken any economic leverage we have with China.”

Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) echoed Burchett’s sentiments, referring to Kerry’s comments as “disgusting and morally wrong.”

“Right now, communist China is actively committing genocide by forcing millions of Uighur Muslims into labor camps and subjecting many to crimes against humanity,” he said. 

“The United States cannot turn a blind eye and brush off these abuses.”

(image)
A guard tower and barbed wire fences are seen around a facility in the Kunshan Industrial Park in Artux
AP

And freshman Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) accused Kerry of being hypocritical with his rhetoric since the President Biden has vowed to be strong on China, calling on him to reevaluate his priorities. 

“In two sentences, John Kerry managed to list every single reason why the U.S. should not be engaging with China, an abusive and corrupt regime, on unfair and costly climate agreements,” she said.

“The administration cannot claim to stand for human rights or religious freedoms while continuing to overlook China’s brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide against its indigenous Uighur Muslim population.,” 

(image)
China’s Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center.
AP

While Kerry has come under fire from Republicans for his comment, a State Department spokesperson dismissed accusations it’s willing to overlook China’s human rights abuses, stating that the administration has called for Beijing to “end these atrocities immediately” and has vowed to work with allies to combat China’s human rights abuses while still working on their climate goals.

“As Special Presidential Envoy Kerry has noted, climate is a critical standalone issue. Other aspects of the U.S.-China relationship — including U.S. interests and values like human rights – will not be traded for climate progress,” the spokesman said in a statement. 

“We can compete with the PRC and call out their egregious actions, including their widespread human rights abuses, while at the same time working to tackle the climate crisis.”

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