VIDEO and RUSH TRANSCRIPT: U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres Participates in Second Hearing of New House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party

Mar 24, 2023
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) tonight participated in the second hearing of the new House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which he was appointed to earlier this year to work in a bipartisan fashion to address geopolitical, economic, diplomatic, and military threats and challenges between the two global superpowers.

The focus of this hearing examined the CCP’s ongoing and brutal genocide of Uyghurs – a Muslim ethnic minority group primarily living in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Since the late 1950’s, the CCP has resorted to extremely repressive policies and practices, including internment camps, forced labor, and mass surveillance, to try and forcefully assimilate the Uyghurs into mainstream CCP culture and eradicate their identity, culture, and religion.

VIDEO of Rep. Torres’s five minutes of questioning can be found here.
VIDEO of the full hearing can be found here.

A RUSH TRANSCRIPT of Rep. Torres’s remarks and questioning is below, as delivered:

REP. TORRES: China spends more on its domestic security than it does on its own military. At the beginning of Xi Jinping’s rule, from 2012 to 2017, China’s domestic security budget doubled. But in the Xinjiang province, the security budget tripled. Xinjiang has emerged as emerged as the most Orwellian police state on Earth with cameras and checkpoints tracking every person and monitoring every behavior that triggers even the slightest semblance of suspicion. The mass surveillance of Uyghurs reflects the pathological paranoia of a regime that lives in existential fear of its own people. That fears the loss of its own power and that seeks survival and self-preservation by any means necessary, including genocide. At the heart of genocide is the intent to destroy a people. There is clear and convincing evidence that the CCP has the intent to destroy the culture Uyghurs to destroy the identity, the history and the very fertility of Uyghur as a people. As a result of forced sterilizations, abortions, and IUD insertions from 2017 to 2019, the birth rates in Xinjiang collapsed by 50% — the steepest decline in birth rates in recent history. Not even the genocide in Rwanda or Cambodia or Bosnia produced a comparable collapse in fertility. There are those who do dispute or are hesitant to use the word genocide, but Ms. Kikoler, is it fair to say that the unprecedented collapse in birth rates among Uyghurs, combined with the cultural erasure of Uyghurs whose systematic reeducation, constitutes compelling evidence of genocide?

MS. NAOMI KIKOLER, Director, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, United States Holocaust Museum: I think the situation that you just presented is one that is so incredibly alarming that every single person has to take notice and we need to uphold our obligation to prevent genocide. The sad reality is that we’re looking at a situation where crimes are already occurring. And we should have been responding much earlier to the warning signs and the risk factors of that. And I think it’s really important to underscore and there’s been much discussion about the why. Perpetrators have many motivations for why they commit crimes and why they escalate their crimes, including up to genocide. And we need to understand their motivations so that we can develop policies that actually are more strategic and targeted to try to change that behavior. That desire for stability is motivated yes, by a concern about identity. Perceptions of religious extremism, terrorism splitism — the three evils that the Chinese government advances, but the reality is there’s also an economic motivation. The Belt and Road Initiative, which is critical to Xinjiang, has got three major intersections that cross through that territory. So, the commission of these crimes has many different causes, which we have to put more of an emphasis on.

REP. TORRES: Well, there is no Belt and Road without Xinjiang.

KIKOLER: Exactly

REP. TORRES: And it also has an abundance of minerals, the highest energy reserves. It has immense strategic importance to the CCP. You know, as we reflect on the genocide against Uyghurs, I’m reminded of the following quote from Justice Robert Jackson in his opening statement at the Nuremberg trials. “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate they’re being ignored, because it cannot survive. They’re being repeated. And yet despite this warning, I worry that the international community has lost its sense of shock and horror, at the very mention of genocide. And if you are going to invoke the term genocide, as the United States has done, the word genocide, which commands moral weight, must carry with it an obligation to galvanize the world into action. And if you’re wondering whether the United States has done enough diplomatically to stop the Uyghur genocide, look no further than the United Nations Human Rights Council, which voted against even debating, let alone denouncing the human rights violations in Xinjiang. Even Ukraine voted to abstain. Every Muslim country except Somalia voted no. And so, Mr. Turkel, do you believe as I do that the United States as the leader of the free world, must commit ourselves to building a multilateral coalition aimed at stopping the weaker genocide?

MR. NURY TURKEL, Chair, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom: Absolutely. You know, to your earlier point, Words matter. There’s a reason to call this genocide. Once we call it, the next step, under Article I of the Genocide Conventions is to stop it. And then hold those to account. More than 150 countries around the world are a state party to the Genocide Convention. Only ten, including some parliaments — our government — give a proper name to describe. It’s a genocide. It’s crime against humanity. It is passed time for action. Again, as I said, this has been ongoing genocide in the last six, seven years.

REP. TORRES: And my time is about to expire, but as we reflect on Ramadan, there iss no government on Earth that has done more to demonize the Muslim faithful and to desecrate the Muslim faith than the Chinese Communist Party. And with that, I’ll leave it at that.

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