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China

Trump 'supported' Chinese repression of Uyghur Muslims

Former adviser's book claims the US president told Xi Jinping that detention camps were 'exactly the right thing to do'

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Updated: June 18, 2020 09:55 AM GMT
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Trump 'supported' Chinese repression of Uyghur Muslims

John Bolton stands alongside US President Donald Trump during a meeting at the White House on May 17, 2018. The US Justice Department filed an emergency order on June 17 seeking to halt release of Bolton's book. (Photo: AFP)

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As the US Congress stood against human rights abuses in authoritarian China, President Donald Trump repeatedly overlooked the mass captivity of at least one million Uyghur Muslims in the communist nation, a senior US security expert has claimed.

Seeking the Chinese government’s economic clout to tilt the balance for his re-election, Trump told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that the detention camps housing Chinese minorities were "exactly the right thing to do," ex-national security adviser John Bolton claims in his new book.

"The National Security Council's top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China," Bolton noted in the tell-all book, The Room Where It Happened — A White House Memoir, which will be released on June 23.

In a scathing critique that Trump's main focus was winning a second term at the White House in the 2020 election, Bolton’s upcoming book alleges Trump "stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome." China is the largest importer of soybeans in the world.

On May 27, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation calling for sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims.

The bill called for strict action against Chinese firms and officials for repression of the Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang province, where the United Nations has estimated that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps.

China-US ties has become extremely turbulent in recent years as Washington has gone on an all-out offensive against Beijing and introduced bills related to Hong Kong, Tibet and even blacklisted Chinese companies on American stock exchanges.

After the massive pro-democracy uprising in Hong Kong last year, Bolton claimed that Trump said he didn't "want to get involved" and "we have human rights problems too."

Ebbing diplomatic ties

During Trump’s presidency, which began in January 2017, Sino-American relations have been at a low ebb. Trump has blamed China's government for the global Covid-19 pandemic and referred to the coronavirus as "the Chinese virus."

"I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn't driven by re-election calculations," Bolton writes of the property magnate-turned-president.

In a meeting with Xi Jinping in June 2019, Trump "stunningly turned the conversation to the US presidential elections, alluding to China's economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he'd win," Bolton claims in his behind-the-scenes memoir.

By intervening in controversial cases involving major firms in China and Turkey, Trump appeared to "give personal favors to dictators he liked," Bolton said, adding that he reported his concerns to Attorney General William Barr.

Bolton, a controversial figure in US politics, spent 17 months as Trump’s aide before resigning last September.

During a 2018 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo passed Bolton a note maligning the president, saying, "He is so full of shit."

Despite objections from his close advisers, Bolton claims that "Trump was desperate to have the meeting [with Kim] at any price."

‘Bolton broke the law’

In an interview on Fox News Channel on June 17, Trump said Bolton “broke the law” by revealing “classified information.” The president had previously called the book a “criminal liability.”

“That to me is a very strong criminal problem,” Trump said. “And he knows he's got classified information. Any conversation with me is classified, but then it becomes even worse if he lies about the conversation.”

The Justice Department filed an emergency order on June 17 seeking to halt the book’s publication to "prevent the harm to national security that will result if his manuscript is published to the world."

Simon & Schuster, publisher of the book, said in a statement: "Tonight's filing by the government is a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility."

In the thick of a presidential campaign, Trump opponent Democrat Joe Biden said Trump "sold out the American people to protect his political future."

He added” "If these accounts are true, it's not only morally repugnant, it's a violation of Donald Trump's sacred duty to the American people to protect America's interests and defend our values."

Bolton did not say whether Trump's actions amounted to impeachable conduct but added that they should have been investigated by the House.

Another potentially damaging book, this time from Trump's family, is already among Amazon’s bestsellers even though it has not yet been released.

The president's niece, Mary Trump, has named her memoir Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man.

Another book on first lady Melania Trump is also selling well on Amazon, according to the site’s sales tracker. The Art of Her Deal was published by Simon & Schuster, the same publisher of the books by Bolton and Mary Trump.

Trump has also sought a ban on his niece’s book, but constitutional experts said it would be highly unlikely for courts to block its publication.

The allegation that Trump sought the help of a major US adversary to help secure his victory in the 2010 election will have far-reaching consequence across Washington six months after the president was impeached on charges he sought help from Ukraine with his re-election bid. Trump was acquitted by the Senate.

Bolton has devoted the final chapter of the 577-page book to the Ukraine matter.

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