Daily US Times: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that China has committed genocide in its repression of the Uighurs and other mainly Muslim peoples.
Incoming Joe Biden’s choice for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has said he agrees with the finding.
Rights groups believe that over the first few hours that China has detained up to a million Uighurs in what the state defines as “re-education camps”.
BBC investigations suggest that the monority group are being used as forced labour.
Tensions with China have been a defining feature of Mr Trump’s presidency, from trade policies to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Pompeo said in a statement: “I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state.”
It is his last day in office as part of Donald Trump’s administration.
While the statement puts pressure on Beijing, it does not automatically introduce any fresh penalties.
Mr Blinken was asked at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday if he agreed with Mike Pompeo’s announcement, to which he answered: “That would be my judgment as well.”
He added: “On the Uighurs I think we’re very much in agreement. And the forcing of men, women and children into concentration camps, trying to, in effect, re-educate them to be adherents to the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party, all of that speaks to an effort to commit genocide.”