- Mike Pompeo announced on January 19 that he considered China's treatment of Uighur Muslims genocide.
- His successor Antony Blinken said Wednesday he agrees with that designation.
- But it's not clear if the US will punish China as a result of that judgment.
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Antony Blinken, President Joe Biden's newly-confirmed secretary of state, said Wednesday that he stands by his Republican predecessor's designation of China as committing genocide against the Uighur Muslims.
In his most extreme rebuke of Beijing as secretary of state, Mike Pompeo said on January 19 that "we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state" in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang.
Later that day Blinken said he agreed with Pompeo's designation, and on Wednesday — one day after being sworn in as the new secretary of state — he reiterated that support.
"My judgment remains that genocide was committed against – against the Uighurs and that – that hasn't changed," Blinken told a press conference, according to a State Department transcript.
Since 2016, China has detained at least one million Uighurs in hundreds of euphemistically-named "reeducation camps" located across their homeland of Xinjiang and beyond.
China has been accused of forcibly sterilizing Uighur woman, mandating abortions, imposing child quotas, and forcing Uighurs to renounce their culture. China denies the claims.
At the Wednesday press conference, Blinken said that he was not aware of reports that Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden's pick for UN ambassador, said that the State Department was reviewing Pompeo's off-the-cuff designation of China as perpetrating genocide.
Thomas-Greenfield had said earlier that day that the department was reviewing the classification as "all of the procedures were not followed," according to Reuters.
"They're looking to make sure that they are followed to ensure that that designation is held," she added.
Blinken did not say whether the US would pursue extra punitive actions against China as a result of the designation.
In the wake of Pompeo's announcement, Chinese state media published a number of reports claiming to show the true nature of the Uighur situation in Xinjiang, which they said was far from genocide.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying also slammed the designation, saying: "We see this so-called determination as a piece of waste paper," according to the BBC.
"We hope the new US administration can have their own reasonable and cool-minded judgment of Xinjiang issues."
On January 20, the day of Biden's inauguration, the Chinese government barred Pompeo and a number of other Trump administration officials from entering China and Hong Kong or doing business with Chinese companies.
Read more: How Trump could mount a presidential campaign even if he's banned from office
Blinken said on Wednesday that China was a key focus of the department's plans.
"The relationship between the US and China is arguably the most important relationship that we have in the world going forward," he said.
"It's going to shape a lot of the future that — that we all live, and increasingly that relationship has some adversarial aspects to it."
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