Chinese envoys in Western capitals add a more polished gloss to the genocide-denial campaign, but this has also backfired. Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the U.K., had trouble refuting the drone footage when asked about it by the BBC’s Andrew Marr this weekend. He also failed to reassure viewers that China is not working to lower the Uighur birthrate in Xinjiang, asserting that it has doubled over the past 40 years. Liu’s colleague in Washington, Cui Tiankai, made a similar claim during an interview with Fareed Zakaria on Sunday. Like Liu, though, Cui failed to account for the sharp drop in the birthrate that started a few years ago, coinciding with the advent of Beijing’s most draconian policies in Xinjiang. By appearing before Western audiences, China’s ambassadors have actually called more attention to the CCP’s mass atrocity crimes and failed to sow any doubt about the evidence.
Beijing continues to explain the camps and its mass surveillance apparatus in Xinjiang as part of a counterterrorism campaign, but it still fails to justify the mandatory sterilization and birth-control policy. The CCP might not be swayed by what Washington and London think, but it still remains sensitive to its image around the world, and official determinations by Western governments that genocide is taking place would be a significant diplomatic and strategic setback for Beijing. A couple of months ago, CCP officials encountered a Western bloc split over how to respond to their transgressions. The latest evidence out of Xinjiang has only led to closer cooperation on responding to China, and hopefully to more robust human-rights diligence by retailers involved in Uighur forced-labor supply chains. And although these allegations won’t lead developing countries in Beijing’s orbit to end their infrastructure partnerships, better that it be widely known that these governments deliberately overlook, and in some cases endorse, a genocide, not the benign counterterrorism measures that Beijing claims its Xinjiang policies to be.