Trump 'couldn't care less' about China's Uighur maltreatment, multiple officials confirm

A mural in Berlin
(Image credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

One of the most troubling accounts in former National Security Adviser John Bolton's forthcoming White House memoir, The Room Where It Happened, is his recollection of a 2018 meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi "explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang" for Uighur Muslims, Bolton recounts. "According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do." In an earlier, pre-redaction draft seen by Vanity Fair, Trump's words were reportedly: "Go ahead, you're doing exactly the right thing."

Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that it's "not true" he effectively gave his blessing to Xi on the Uighur camps, noting he signed Uighur Human Rights Policy Act, passed May 27 with overwhelming bipartisan support, on Wednesday, shortly Bolton's allegation was reported. "I could have fought it," Trump said. "And I would have won. But I didn't fight that deal." A National Security Council spokesman told The Daily Beast it's "preposterous" to claim Trump didn't challenge Beijing on its Uighur mass imprisonment, torture, harsh cultural and religious "re-education," and extensive surveillance.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.