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Blinken calls for China to provide international access to Xinjiang region

During testimony before Congress Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on China to provide international access to the Xinjiang region amid accusations of genocide against the Uighur Muslim population. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
During testimony before Congress Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on China to provide international access to the Xinjiang region amid accusations of genocide against the Uighur Muslim population. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

March 10 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that China should provide the world access to the Xinjiang region to provide assurance it is not violating the rights of Uighur Muslims in the region.

Testifying before the House foreign affairs committee on the State Department's priorities under President Joe Biden's administration, Blinken said the administration would call for China to provide international access to the region where its treatment of the Muslim minority group has been labeled genocide.

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"I think it would be very important, if China claims that there is nothing going on, that it gives access to the international community, to the United Nations," Blinken said. "If they have nothing to hide, show it to us, show the world."

Blinken also said it was important that the United States and other nations be sure to be vocal about the human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region and ensure that they are not importing goods made by forced labor or exporting goods to China that can be used "for the repression of their people and minorities."

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His statement came as a report by Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy found that China's treatment of its Uighur population violates every provision of the United Nations' genocide convention.

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State Department spokesman Ned Price on Wednesday said Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan will meet with China's foreign minister Wang Yi and its top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Anchorage, Alaska, on March 18.

Blinken called for similar transparency as he condemned military violence in Ethiopia's Tigray region as ethnic cleansing as troops from neighboring regions have been implicated in mass killings in the region.

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He said that forces from the neighboring regions of Eretria and Amhara need to come out and be replaced by "a force that will not abuse the human rights of the people of Tigray or commit acts of ethnic cleansing, which we've seen in western Tigray."

Blinken called for Ethiopia to provide access to the region in order to begin a process to ensure that those responsible for the abuses face "full accountability."

"We need to get an independent investigation into what took place there and we need some kind of process, a reconciliation process so that the country can move forward politically," he said.

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Responding to a question from Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., Blinken said the United States would not make concessions to Iran to secure a meeting to discuss rejoining the Iran nuclear deal but warned that its "breakout time" to constructing nuclear weapons has shortened to three or four months.

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"We have an interest in getting Iran back into that nuclear box," he said. "Because think of it this way, we have fundamental problems with Iran's actions across a whole series of things, whether it's support for terrorism, whether it's a ballistic missile program -- it's increasingly dangerous, whether it's destabilizing actions throughout the region or with the threshold to have a weapon."

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