U.S. President Joe Biden warned on Tuesday that China will pay a price for its human rights abuses, responding to queries at a televised event on the Asian nation’s handling of Muslim minorities in its far western region of Xinjiang.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has drawn global criticism for holding the minority Uighurs in internment camps, in addition to other human rights abuses.
“Well, there will be repercussions for China and he knows that,” Biden said of Xi, when pressed on the issue at the town hall event televised on broadcaster CNN.
Biden said his country will reassert its global role in speaking up for human rights, adding that he would work with the international community to get China to protect them.
“China is trying very hard to become a world leader and to get that moniker and be able to do that they have to gain the confidence of other countries,” Biden said on his first official trip since taking office as president last month.
“As long as they are involved in activity that contradicts basic human rights, it is going to be hard for them to do that,” he added.
In a 2-hour phone call with Xi this month, Biden highlighted the U.S. priority of preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region, where the United States and China are major strategic rivals.
He also voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and rights issues, such as its Hong Kong crackdown, the Xinjiang internments, and increasingly assertive actions in Asia, including toward Taiwan, which China claims as its own.