US State Department accusation of China ‘genocide’ relied on data abuse and baseless claims by far-right ideologue
The Trump and Biden administrations have relied on the work of a right-wing religious extremist, Adrian Zenz, for their “genocide” accusation against China. A close review of Zenz’s research reveals flagrant data abuse and outright falsehoods.
by Gareth Porter and Max Blumenthal
Both President Joe Biden and his Secretary of State Anthony Blinken have endorsed former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s last-minute accusation of “genocide” against the Muslim Uyghur population in China’s Xinjiang province. But an investigation of published work by the researcher Pompeo relied on to level his genocide allegation reveals a pattern of data abuse and fraudulent assertions that substantially undermines the incendiary charge.
The US government’s accusation of genocide against China stems from a single source: a June 2020 paper by Adrian Zenz, a right-wing German researcher affiliated with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and neoconservative Jamestown Foundation in Washington, DC.
Articles by the Associated Press, CNN, and BBC also relied on Zenz’s article to claim that plunging Uyghur birth rates and the application of birth control measures in Uyghur counties of the Xinjiang region were proof of a policy of “demographic genocide.”
Just days after the publication of Zenz’s paper, Pompeo issued a statement denouncing China’s alleged policy of “forced sterilization, forced abortion, and coercive family planning,” personally crediting “Adrian Zenz’s shocking revelations.”
Biden backed the the genocide charge last August when it first appeared in a flurry of media reports. His campaign spokesman told Politico, “The unspeakable oppression that Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have suffered at the hands of China’s authoritarian government is genocide and Joe Biden stands against it in the strongest terms.” Blinken, for his part, declared at his first press conference as secretary of state that he agreed genocide has been committed against the Uyghurs.
While Zenz’s employers describe him as “one of the world’s leading scholars on People’s Republic of China government policies towards the country’s western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang,” he is, in fact, a far-right Christian fundamentalist who has said he is “led by God” against China’s government, deplores homosexuality and gender equality, and has taught exclusively in evangelical theological institutions.
Lyle Goldstein, a China specialist and research professor in the Strategic and Operational Research Department of the Naval War College, told The Grayzone that Zenz’s labeling of the Chinese approach to the Uyghurs as “demographic genocide” is “ridiculous to the point of being insulting to those who lost relatives in the Holocaust.”
Goldstein said the Chinese approach to Xinjiang “is a more repressive posture than we would like, but it sure isn’t genocide.”
Moreover, a careful review of Zenz’s research shows that his assertion of genocide is contradicted by flagrant data abuse, fraudulent claims, cherry-picking of source material, and propagandistic misrepresentations.