China’s abuse of minority groups has come into the international spotlight over the last two years and has led to sanctions, warnings and general disapproval from the world’s most powerful nations.
However, the Washington Free Beacon reported Monday that John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s special presidential envoy for climate, holds a $1 million stake in a Chinese private equity fund known to be invested in companies that are said to be involved in human rights abuses.
The Biden administration has condemned Chinese companies involved in such abuses, especially in the Xinjiang region where the Uyghur people are being oppressed. In June, the White House took action against five specific Chinese entities known for being involved in forced labor.
“These actions demonstrate our commitment to imposing additional costs on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for engaging in cruel and inhumane forced labor practices and ensuring that Beijing plays by the rules of fair trade as part of the rules-based international order,” a White House fact sheet said.
The Biden administration has been taking a harder line against the widespread human rights violations in China, particularly as the abuse of the Uyghurs has continued to make international headlines. In March, the U.S. joined the European Union in imposing sanctions on China to protest the abuses in Xinjiang, NPR reported.
“The United States is committed to playing a strong leadership role in global efforts to combat serious human rights abuse, through the Global Magnitsky sanctions program and similar efforts. Targeted sanctions, including against those who violate or abuse human rights, are an important tool to discourage malign actors and promote accountability,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
Yet despite the United States’ stand against China’s human rights violations, upon a closer look, Kerry’s private equity fund, Hillhouse China Value Fund L.P., has investments in companies that are connected to labor and human suppression.
Hillhouse is a top shareholder in Yitu Technology, which helped create facial recognition systems for the Chinese government to use to track Uyghurs.
“The facial recognition technology, which is integrated into China’s rapidly expanding networks of surveillance cameras, looks exclusively for Uighurs based on their appearance and keeps records of their comings and goings for search and review,” The New York Times reported in 2019.
Hillhouse also invested in LONGi Green, an energy technology manufacturer, in December, according to the Free Beacon.
LONGi Green produces solar panels and is a major player in U.S. solar technology imports. In the first two quarters of 2021, LONGi accounted for 25 percent of U.S. solar technology imports from China, Foreign Policy reported.
LONGi acquires materials from companies linked to others on Biden’s blacklist.
“The PRC’s use of forced labor in Xinjiang is an integral part of its systematic abuses against the Uyghur population and other ethnic and religious minority groups, and addressing these abuses will remain a high priority for the Biden-Harris administration,” the White House said in its June fact sheet.
“The systematic abuses go beyond forced labor to include sexual violence and large-scale forced detentions, and the PRC continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.”
The Kerry family, however, has had investments in China for years.
In 2016, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported that Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz, held investments in 12 companies in China. At the time, there was controversy over the investments possibly having influence over Kerry’s decisions as secretary of State.
But the State Department said there was no real interference.
“Secretary Kerry is not a beneficiary of these trusts, and Mrs. Heinz Kerry also exercises no control over the investment decisions made by the independent trustees,” a department spokesman told the DCNF.
One of the companies that Heinz was invested in, however, did have ties to Tibetan repression.
Now, with Kerry’s questionable investments, the integrity of his decision-making as Biden’s special presidential envoy for climate (particularly to China) is in question.
“John Kerry appears to have profited from a company tied to egregious human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Now it makes sense why he is actively working against my Uyghur Forced Labor Act,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told the Free Beacon.
“But this is bigger than Kerry. A climate deal cannot make our nation complicit to the Chinese Communist Party’s slave labor practices.”
When asked in a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing earlier in the year about his role in dealing with China and the climate, Kerry said that dealing with the issues of Chinese human rights violations was not within his purview.
“That’s not my lane. My lane is very specifically is to try and get the Chinese to move what we need to do with respect to climate itself,” he said, according to Fox News.
But later in the same hearing, Kerry said that getting solar panels from Xinjiang was a problem.
“Xinjiang province not only produces some of the solar panels that we believe are being in some cases produced in forced labor by Uyghur[s], but also there are significant amounts of a certain rare earth mineral that’s used in the solar panels themselves,” Kerry said.
Now with his investments coming to light, many are voicing concerns over Kerry’s integrity.
“Far too many investors have continued to pour billions into China even after abundant evidence that the country is executing an ongoing genocide and threatens war against our closest allies,” intelligence analyst Anders Corr told the Free Beacon. “That Kerry too had funds invested in China is an outrage, not least because he is a public official who claims to uphold the highest of ethics.
“Investing in China, given its shocking violation of human rights and totalitarian political system, should be cause for immediate removal from any positions of public trust.”
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