John Kerry Brushes Off Question About Uyghur Genocide: ‘Life Is Always Full Of Tough Choices’


Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
Font Size:

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry brushed off a question about human rights and China’s treatment of Uyghurs during an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg’s David Westin on the Biden administration’s climate agenda.

“Clearly a priority of the Biden administration is really addressing climate, but it’s not the only priority,” Westin noted in the interview. “There are other things as well, such as the Uyghur situation in the west. What is the process by which one trades off climate against human rights?”

“Well, life is always full of tough choices in the relationship between nations,” Kerry responded.


He also likened President Joe Biden’s push to cooperate with China on climate change to former President Ronald Reagan’s success in reaching an arms reduction agreement with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the Reykjavík Summit in 1986.

“Even as there were egregious human rights issues, which Ronald Reagan called them out on, we had to find a way forward to make the world safer,” Kerry argued. “We can do and must do the same thing now. Yes, we have issues, a number of different issues, but first and foremost this planet must be protected.” (RELATED: John Kerry’s Wife Has Over $1 Million Investment In Hedge Fund With Ties To China, Records Show)

“So the hope is if our cooperation can come forward on this issue, that could perhaps open up the door to say, you know what, we did it there, let’s see if we can find a way to deal with cyber or deal with nuclear or deal with some of these other issues,” he continued. “I believe there are clearly other areas where cooperation could produce something.”

Kerry didn’t elaborate on the other issues affecting U.S.-China relations, nor did he mention China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in the northwestern Xinjiang region. Current estimates indicate China in recent years has detained up to 2 million people in internment camps.

Multiple reports indicate China is committing “demographic genocide” against the local population through forced abortions and sterilization. Other reports cite the use of forced labor, including for U.S. companies, and a high-tech surveillance apparatus designed to monitor the entire region.

The outgoing Trump administration had declared in January that China’s actions in Xinjiang constituted genocide, and the Biden administration has continued to use that designation.

Kerry’s brushing aside of human rights in China echoes previous comments he made during an April interview, in which he suggested the U.S. should push aside “differences on human rights” in order to pursue cooperation with China on climate change.