Miami Mayor Francis Suarez appeared to go blank when asked on The Hugh Hewitt Show Tuesday about the Uyghurs, a persecuted minority group in China.
«What is an Uyghur?» Suárez asked the conservative announcer on his radio show when asked if he would speak about the Uyghurs in his presidential campaign.
«You have to be smart about that,» Hewitt replied.
Suárez returned to the subject at the end of the interview.
«You gave me homework, Hugh. I’ll see what, what was it, what did you call it, a Weeble?» Suarez asked, laughing.
«The Uyghurs. You really need to know about the Uyghurs, Mayor,» Hewitt said. «You have to talk about it every day, okay?»
Suárez replied that he would look for them and talk about them.
«I learn well. I learn fast,» he said.
Suárez’s team did not immediately return a request for comment for this story.
During a foreign policy speech on China in Washington, DC on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley responded to Suárez’s comments.
“I mean, genocide: We promised to never look away from genocide again, and it’s happening right now in China,” Haley responded. «And nobody says anything because they are too afraid of China.»
The Uyghurs are a predominantly Muslim minority in China’s western region that has faced widespread persecution by the Chinese government as the US government. designated a genocide
More than a million Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups have been arbitrarily arrested and detained by the government since 2017, according to the State Department. Beijing has referred to the camps as «vocational education and training centers.»
The interview comes as several presidential candidates emphasize tough rhetoric about China as part of their foreign policy outlook.
President Joe Biden called Chinese President Xi Jinping a «dictator» last week, and former President Donald Trump said in a speech that he «took on China like no administration has before.»
«Communist China is by far the greatest threat to the security and prosperity of the United States,» said candidate Nikki Haley. tweeted on Tuesday.
“I think we are in the era of a new Cold War, without a doubt,” candidate Tim Scott told NBC News in May, when asked if he sees China as the enemy of the United States.
Suárez launched a long shot presidential campaign in a rapidly widening Republican field earlier this month. He was first elected mayor of Miami in 2017 and later won re-election in 2021.
Jesse Rodriguez, alec hernandez and Liz Brown-Kaiser contributed.