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Trump Administration Condemned China’s Muslim Concentration Camps a Year Before Bolton Says Trump Approved Them

Trump Administration Condemned China’s Muslim Concentration Camps a Year Before Bolton Says Trump Approved Them
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National Security Advisor John Bolton, pictured on April 13, 2018, said President Donald Trump
Mandel Ngan/AFP

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton claims President Donald Trump told China’s president to go ahead with Muslim concentration camps in June 2019, but the Trump administration had condemned them already in July 2018.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Thursday to promote his new book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, Bolton claimed that Trump gave Chinese Premier Xi Jinping the go-ahead to round up millions of Uighurs:

At the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.

However, almost a year before, the Trump administration had specifically condemned China’s concentration camps at the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington, DC in July 2018:

As representatives of the international community, we are deeply concerned about the significant restrictions on religious freedom in China and call on the Chinese government to respect the human rights of all individuals. Many members of religious minority groups in China – including Uighurs, Hui, and Kazakh Muslims; Tibetan Buddhists; Catholics; Protestants; and Falun Gong – face severe repression and discrimination because of their beliefs.

We are particularly troubled by reports of the Chinese government’s deepening crackdown on Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in China, including: undue restrictions on freedom of religion; destruction of mosques; unprecedented levels of surveillance; efforts to pressure other governments into forcibly returning Uighurs to China or to coerce family members of Uighurs still in Xinjiang to encourage Uighurs living aboard to return; and the detention of hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in facilities ranging from makeshift holding centers to prisons, ostensibly for “political re-education,” in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. There are reports of deaths in these facilities. We call on the Chinese government to release immediately all those arbitrarily detained.

Bolton also claimed in his op-ed that Trump made similar comments to Xi in 2017, but he acknowledges that he heard that from someone else.

Hours before Bolton’s op-ed was published, Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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