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A facility believed to be a "re-education camp," where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, in Artux in China's Xinjiang region, in 2019. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday declined to open an investigation into allegations of genocide against Uighur Muslims in China, but it left the file open.

Why it matters: This means that more evidence can be submitted on claims of genocide by Chinese authorities against Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, northwest China, and the ICC could still open an investigation.

Driving the news: The office of ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a report the "precondition for the exercise of the court's territorial jurisdiction did not appear to be met" as the evidence concerned alleged crimes and suspects in China, which is not a signatory to the global court.

  • But Rodney Dixon, the lead barrister in the case against China, told the Guardian he's "hopeful that the ICC will take up this investigation."
  • "We will be providing highly relevant evidence that will permit this to happen in the coming months," Dixon added.

Of note: In 2019, the ICC approved an investigation into crimes against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

  • Myanmar is not a member of the ICC. However, the Hague-based court said it had jurisdiction to investigate as some of the crimes were alleged to have taken place in Bangladesh, which ratified the ICC Rome statute in 2010.

The big picture: Chinese officials have since 2017 detained up to 2 million Uighurs in "re-education camps." They deny any abuses have occurred, claiming they're being used to root out extremism. But evidence has emerged to support allegations of torture, forced sterilization and other abuses.

  • There has been growing global condemnation of China over its treatment of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities. At the UN in October, 39 nations including the U.S. denounced Beijing for human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

In the U.S., the Trump administration has imposed measures including the sanctioning of Chinese Communist Party officials, while President-elect Biden has labeled the oppression "genocide."

Read the ICC report, via DocumentCloud:

Go deeper: Chinese ambassador struggles to explain Xinjiang footage of blindfolded prisoners

Go deeper

Jan 19, 2021 - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

Mike Allen, author of AM
15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.

Read: Pete Buttigieg's opening statement ahead of confirmation hearing

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, in December. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, will tell senators he plans to prioritize the health and safety of public transportation systems during the pandemic — and look to infrastructure projects to rebuild the economy — according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Buttigieg will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is expected to face a relatively smooth confirmation process, though GOP lawmakers may press him on "green" elements of Biden's transportation proposals.