US House passes Uighur bill urging sanctions on Chinese officials

Clay Curtis
December 4, 2019

Lawmakers are working to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills to find a version that can pass swiftly through Congress before the end of the year.

Analysts say China's reaction to passage of the Uighur bill could be stronger, although some doubted it would go so far as imposing visa bans on the likes of the USA secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who has called China's treatment of Uighurs "the stain of the century" and has been repeatedly denounced by Beijing.

A response from China on the Xinjiang issue that hits United States companies would add another obstacle as the two countries struggle to finalise a "phase one" deal to de-escalate the trade war.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement Wednesday that the using the Xinjiang issue to sow discord in Chinese ethnic relations and undermine the prosperity and stability of the far west region, home to the predominantly Muslim Uighur and Kazakh minority groups.

After initially denying their existence, Beijing now defends the camps, which it calls "vocational education centers", as a necessary measure to counter religious extremism and terrorism.

President Trump sent the stock drop when he said Tuesday he had no "deadline, quot; for a trade agreement with China, suggesting he would wait until after the 2020 presidential elections".

"We must say "never again" to the cultural genocide and the atrocities suffered by Uighurs and others in China". It has repeatedly demanded that USA and other foreign states critical of its policies in Xinjiang end their interference in China's domestic affairs.

China had earlier this week suspended visits by US Navy ships and aircrafts to Hong Kong after the US passed the Human Rights and Democracy Act into law.

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Global Times, a tabloid published by the official People's Daily newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party, tweeted on Tuesday that Beijing would soon release a so-called unreliable entities list imposing sanctions against those who harm China's interests. "We must demand an end to these barbaric practices", Smith said, adding that Chinese officials must be held accountable for crimes against humanity".

The move comes one week after Mr Trump signed overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation aimed at supporting the pro-Democracy protesters in Hong Kong who taken to the streets in recent months.

"Today the human dignity and human rights of the Uighur community are under threat from Beijing's barbarous actions, which are an outrage to the collective conscience of the world", House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her colleagues shortly before the vote.

China will respond further depending on the development of the situation, the statement said.

"I think there's a sort of piling-on factor here that the Chinese are concerned about", he said.

Once signed into law, the Trump administration would have no more than 120 days to provide Congress with a list of Chinese officials whom it "determines are responsible for or who have knowingly engaged in serious human rights abuses" against Uighurs.

The House bill would require the State Department to produce a report within one year on the crackdown in Xinjiang.

It also effectively bans the export to China of items that can be used for surveillance of individuals, including facial and voice-recognition technology.

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