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BEIJING (Reuters) – With hours left in Donald Trump’s presidency, China’s foreign ministry took aim at its chief U.S. antagonist, “lying and cheating” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and said it would seek cooperation with the incoming administration of Joe Biden.
Pompeo, who has unleashed a barrage of measures against China in his final weeks in office, delivered his own parting shot on Tuesday when he announced that the Trump administration had determined that China has committed “genocide and crimes against humanity” by repressing Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
“Pompeo has made so many lies in recent years, and this is just another bold-faced lie,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular media briefing on Wednesday.
“This so-called determination by Pompeo is nothing but paper. This U.S. politician is notorious for lying and cheating, is making himself a laughing stock and a clown,” she said.
China has repeatedly rejected accusations of abuse of the Uighur population in its western Xinjiang region, where a United Nations panel has said that at least 1 million Uighurs and other Muslims had been detained in camps.
However, Biden’s secretary of state appointee, Antony Blinken, said on Tuesday that he agreed with Pompeo’s genocide assessment.
“The forcing of men, women and children into concentration camps; trying to, in effect, re-educate them to be adherents to the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party, all of that speaks to an effort to commit genocide,” he said.
Asked about Blinken’s remarks, Hua gave the incoming administration the benefit of the doubt, along with a warning that China would not accept criticism of its Xinjiang policy going forward.
“We hope the new U.S. administration can have their own reasonable and cool-minded judgment on Xinjiang issues, among other issues,” she said.
“We hope the new administration will work together with China in the spirit of mutual respect, properly handle differences and conduct more win-win cooperation in more sectors,” she said.
Beijing’s ire has often been directed at Pompeo, and Hua was asked whether she will miss him.
“Of course, we are enjoying a free-of-charge show every day,” she said. “But I think the harm he incurred to the U.S. image and reputation is irreversible and hard to heal.”