Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly said on Sunday that Central Asian nations should “resist” Chinese demands to repatriate Uighur Muslims, a persecuted minority in China.
In a meeting with foreign ministers representing Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Pompeo said Beijing sought to “erase” the Uighur minority under the pretext of fighting terrorism, according to Reuters.
“I want to make clear that China’s repressive campaign in Xinjiang is not about terrorism,” Pompeo told reporters, referencing the province where members of the minority have been detained, after the meeting.
“It’s about China’s attempt to erase its own citizens,” he added. “We call on all countries to resist China’s demands to repatriate the Uighurs.”
The remarks come ahead of this week’s United Nations General Assembly, during which the U.S. is projected to call out treatment of the Uighurs in China, Reuters noted. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will reportedly host an event on the Xinjiang “human rights crisis” Tuesday, and the Trump administration has considered sanctions against Xinjiang officials, according to the news service.