Senior U.S. officials this week stepped up a campaign to press China to reverse its policy of detaining a million or more Uyghurs in so-called reeducation camps, with a Pentagon official warning that the mass incarceration posed a security threat as it increased the “potential for radicalization” of the oppressed Muslims.
“We do worry about the effects these will have on regional security and potential for radicalization. Treating people this way can certainly lead to those outcomes,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver.
“It is a humanitarian issue, it is a religious freedom issue, but for us at the Department of Defense it is also a security issue,” he told a two-day conference in Washington titled “Confronting Atrocities in China: The Global Response to the Uyghur Crisis.”
“The Chinese government’s rampant abuse of the human rights and religious freedoms of Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang is an urgent issue impacting the broader region,” said David Ranz, acting deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs.
“The deteriorating state of religious freedom in China, including the government’s increasing persecution of the Uyghurs and other Muslims minorities, is not only a bilateral issue with China; it is a regional and global one as well,” he told the gathering.
“It is a crisis that has engaged all corners of the State Department as we seek to build a global response to the Chinese government’s program of oppression,” added Ranz, who urged governments in China’s region and beyond to back the campaign to end the mass incarcerations.
“We call on China to end this campaign of repression, and immediately release the approximately 1 million arbitrarily detained in camps. We urge other governments of the region and the world to join us,” he said.