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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday condemned President Trump for undermining the United States' moral authority after he told Axios in an interview that he delayed imposing sanctions against Chinese officials to facilitate a trade deal with Beijing.

Driving the news: Asked why he held off on imposing Treasury sanctions against Chinese officials involved with mass detention camps for Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, Trump told Axios: "Well, we were in the middle of a major trade deal."

  • "And I made a great deal, $250 billion potentially worth of purchases. And by the way, they're buying a lot, you probably have seen."
  • Trump continued: "And when you're in the middle of a negotiation and then all of a sudden you start throwing additional sanctions on — we've done a lot. I put tariffs on China, which are far worse than any sanction you can think of."

Why it matters: The U.S. could "lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights" if it doesn't address the atrocities in China, Pelosi wrote in a news release Monday.

  • The comments came days after Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
  • But Pelosi argued that the action "rings extraordinarily hollow in light of his clearly stated lack of interest in standing up to Beijing.”

What she's saying:

“Congress on a bipartisan basis has long spoken with one voice in defense of those persecuted by Beijing and will continue to do so.  If America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial issues, we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights any place in the world.
“President Trump’s admission that he is looking the other way and enabling one of the worst human rights atrocities of our time in order to ink a trade deal is appalling.

Go deeper: Read more from Trump's interview with Axios

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Sep 28, 2020 - World

Pompeo to protest China deal in Vatican visit

Pompeo. Photo: Getty

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit the Vatican on Tuesday to protest the pending renewal of a controversial deal with China.

Behind the scenes: Pope Francis has reportedly declined to meet with Pompeo, citing the imminent U.S. election.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 29, 2020 - Technology

U.S.-China fight spreads to the chip factory

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration's campaign against TikTok gets all the headlines, but the U.S. move last week to place restrictions on Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC), China's top chipmaker, could end up making a greater difference.

Why it matters: Semiconductor analysts say SMIC represented China's strongest bid to build a domestic chip industry and bolster its tech independence. Sanctions that cut off its access to advanced manufacturing and testing equipment from the U.S. could seriously set that effort back.

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

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