China blasted the White House in a Friday foreign ministry press conference, charging the US administration with lying after a Biden spokesperson said the president raised the issue of Uyghur Muslim genocide and forced labor camps with Xi in their over two-hour Thursday phone call.
The controversy started when White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters soon after the call that Biden "raised genocide and forced labor practices by the [People’s Republic of China]," explaining that is something the president "always does" when he speaks with Xi.
"This is, as we’ve said, that anytime the president has an opportunity, he raises that when he meets with another leader, and called on [the] PRC to cease its ongoing human rights abuses across China," she followed with.
Except Beijing now says this was cut out of whole cloth, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian vehemently rejecting this account in a Friday statement, saying:
"I can tell you that allegations of ‘genocide’ and ‘forced labor’ in Xinjiang are pure lies."
"You said the White House press secretary claimed that 'genocide' and 'forced labor' came up in last night’s call. That is false information."
Curiously, neither the Chinese government's nor the White House's call readouts mention anything regarding the Uyghurs in particular, but only an ultra-broad "discussed a range of issues" phrase was used by the Biden administration in its press release.
In follow-up, The New York Post questioned the Biden administration about the matter, with a National Security Council spokesman saying, "I’m not going to get into a back and forth with a PRC government spokesperson."
The NSC official added, "The president raised concerns about human rights with President Xi, as he always does. He was crystal clear about his concerns. He also raised the need to resolve the cases of American citizens who are wrongfully detained or subject to exit bans in China."
...so somebody is indeed lying, given the clear discrepancy.
Meanwhile, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is en route to the region on her Asia tour, which might include an ultra-provocative stopover in Taiwan...