CNN reported in January 2021 that

The US has officially determined that China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghur Muslims and ethnic and religious minority groups who live in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

The Canadian government took a similar view. A related question on Skeptics.SE asks about some of those claims.

The Claim:

The Grayzone published a story in February 2020 which challenges the evidence behind the decision.

In particular:

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.

They go on to question the accuracy of that paper and alleged a bias of its author.

Did the decision by the US government rely on the accuracy of this single report by Adrian Jenz?

  • Closely related: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/42638/… It's not quite a duplicate, because this question is framed around the term "genocide" specifically. On the other hand, I'm not sure how well the term "genocide" is defined, to measure this claim against.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 14:08
  • 7
    The question is currently asking us to interpret a political strategy and explain a political position rather than establish the facts around a claim. If the question is "Did China do [specific act]?" it might be answerable. If the question is "Did China commit genocide?" that will be a legal opinion question. But the question is currently "Explain why the USA and Canada decided to act this way" and there is no objective answer to that.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 15:14
  • 1
    Politics would probably accept a question like this. Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 16:52
  • 4
    I have made a substantial edit to focus the question, so it could be reopened. Please do take a look to ensure that I have captured the core claim you want testeed.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 0:02
  • 4
    I guess the edited question is valid, although as asked, I'm pretty sure the answer is "no".
    – einpoklum
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 7:34

1 Answer 1


No, the Grayzone claim is demonstratably false. They write:

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.”

This is apparently the entire basis of their claim that "the US government’s accusation of genocide against China stems from a single source" (you can check their article for yourself).

But nowhere has Pompeo drawn any connection between Zenz's paper and his determination that genocide is occurring. He does not say anywhere in his statement about Zenz's paper that he believes this is part of a case for genocide.

In the actual the text of his determination that genocide is occurring, Zenz is not cited. In fact, no source is cited! The tone of the statement is that of a conclusion being reached, not a full investigation.

The State Department already did an investigation into Xinjiang back in 2019. Among their sources, they cited National Public Radio, The Diplomat, The New York Times, the CBC, Radio Free Asia, Human Rights Watch, the BBC, and official CCP government websites that were archived by Zenz. At the time this had no policy consequences. [edited: my hypothesis for why Pompeo did not react in 2019 is removed as it is off-topic for this SE]

In any case, Pompeo is clearly relying on more than just Zenz even though his statement provides no citations. You can see this from the quotations he uses:

Meanwhile, they are delivering far darker messages to their own people, portraying Uyghurs as “malignant tumors,” comparing their faith to a “communicable plague,” and exhorting the Party faithful to implement a crushing blow, telling them “you can’t uproot all the weeds hidden among the crops in the field one-by-one; you need to spray chemicals to kill them all.”

These quotations are not attributed, but they do have origins. For example, the last and longest is from an RFA article, quoting a Chinese official overheard by the chief of security for Kashgar’s Chasa township, whose name is given as Yasinahun. If China wished to deny these statements they could simply produce Yasinahun or deny his existence.

The State Department relied on dozens of sources for their own understanding of Xinjiang, and even Pompeo relied on more than just Zenz. The Grayzone claim is therefore proven false.

  • If Pompeo has not cited his sources for the determination, that neither proves nor disproves the claim. The page you linked to does not mention 'genocide'; and itself seems to rely on Zenz' estimates, through a US government estimate of the number of detainees. Can you locate other concrete sources?
    – einpoklum
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 20:44
  • yes, I provided a non-Zenz concrete source for Pompeo's remarks in the second half of the answer.
    – Avery
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 20:55
  • 1
    I showed you like several dozen sources at the State Department link. But it seems like you're actually claiming that there are zero sources right now, because no one at the State Department has explicitly said "X and Y is taking place, and we believe X and Y constitutes genocide". So, by your definition the Grayzone claim is also false.
    – Avery
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 23:27
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    I answered the question that was posed. By changing the subject away from Grayzone's verifiable falsehood, you are going off topic. The question of whether the State Department is right to determine genocide is not in the scope of Skeptics.SE. If you want to argue over the meaning of genocide, go to Politics.SE, or the Wikipedia talk page.
    – Avery
    Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 0:39
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    The question was "Did the decision by the US government rely on the accuracy of this single report by Adrian Zenz?". Avery's answer clearly shows that there are no sources cited for anything, but that some of Pompeo's remarks are clearly based sources other than Adrian Zenz. So, Avery answered your question @einpoklum
    – Olorun
    Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 14:58

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