US Congress approves China sanctions over ethnic crackdown


Congress has voted to tighten America’s response to brutal Chinese crackdowns on ethnic minorities, adding another factor to increasingly stormy relations between the two countries. The House on Wednesday passed a bipartisan bill that would ban Chinese officials involved in mass surveillance and detention of Uighurs and other ethnic groups in the western Xinjiang region, a campaign that has garnered a tacit international response because of China’s influence around the world. .

The measure has already passed the Senate and requires the signature of President Donald Trump, who said this week he would “very strongly” over it, amid US anger over China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and restrictions on civil liberties in Hong Kong. Will consider the Chinese plan to do so amidst tensions. Kong. When Republicans and Democratic members of Congress spoke out in support of the bill, both issues came to the fore, along with other sore points in Sino-US relations. No one spoke out against it, and it was passed by a vote of 413-1.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a floor speech in support of the bill, “Beijing’s barbaric acts targeting Uighurs hurt the collective conscience of the world.” It was the first bill in history to be passed with proxy votes after House Democrats over Republican objections adopted a measure to allow such votes in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Congress voted late last year to condemn the crackdown in Xinjiang, where Chinese authorities have detained more than a million people of mostly Muslim ethnic groups, including Uighurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, in a vast network of detention centers .

The new law aims to increase pressure by imposing sanctions on specific Chinese officials, such as Communist Party officials, who oversee government policy in Xinjiang. The law also requires the US government to report to Congress on human rights violations in Xinjiang as well as China’s acquisition of technology used for mass detention and surveillance. It also provides for the assessment of widespread reports of harassment and intimidation of Uighurs and other Chinese citizens in the United States.

A provision that placed export restrictions on surveillance and other equipment used in operations was initially passed in the House, but then removed in a version that passed the Senate earlier this month. Despite the limitations, Peter Irwin, a senior Uighur program officer, said the law is the first concrete step by the government to punish China over its treatment of Uighurs, as the existence of mass internment camps has become widely known in recent years. has gone. Human Rights Project.

“It signals that a member of the international community is actually taking some action to address the problem,” Irwin said. ‘The law itself has to inspire the rest of the international community, especially the EU and other powerful blocs of states, to actually take it as a template and pass their own legislation.’ Rep. Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican and chairman of the House China Task Force, called what is happening in Xinjiang a “cultural genocide” of Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups.

McCall said the passage of the bill with strong bipartisan support would show the Chinese Communist Party and the whole world that their treatment of Muslim Uighurs was unforgivable and would not be allowed without dire consequences. China has publicly rejected criticism of its action in Xinjiang, which it launched in 2014 as a ‘strike hard against violent extremism’ campaign in a vast resource-rich region whose residents are the country’s Han Chinese majority. are largely distinct, culturally and ethnically. ,

The Chinese government, while not criticizing it as an internal matter, has also said that the detention camps are vocational training centres. Uighur activists and human rights groups protest that many of those captured are people with advanced degrees and business owners who are influential in their communities and do not need any special education. Those held in detention camps have described forced political persecution, torture, beatings, refusal of food and medicine and said they were prohibited from practicing their religion or speaking their language.

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