U.S. House Passes Uyghur Human Rights Bill

  • "Beijing's barbarous actions targeting the Uyghur people are an outrage to the collective conscious of the world," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said.
  • As the U.S. and China are nervous about the issue of Hong Kong, this bill has increased the rift between the two countries.
  • The bill requires the US government to determine which Chinese officials are responsible for "arbitrary detention, torture and harassment" of Uyghurs.

The US House of Representatives passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 on Wednesday, authorizing sanctions against Chinese officials who suppress Uighur Muslims. The bill received near-unanimous bipartisan support, by a vote of 413-1. Only Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) voted against it.

Critics of China’s treatment of Uyghurs have accused the Chinese government of propagating a policy of sinicization in Xinjiang in the 21st century, calling this policy an ethnocide or a cultural genocide of Uyghurs. In particular, they have highlighted the concentration of Uyghurs in state-sponsored re-education camps, suppression of Uyghur religious practices and testimonials of alleged human rights abuses.
“Beijing’s barbarous actions targeting the Uyghur people are an outrage to the collective conscious of the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said.
“This House of Representatives, in a very strong bipartisan way, we are sending a message to the persecuted that they are not forgotten. We’re saying to the president of China: you may tell these people that they are forgotten, but they aren’t.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, accused China of implementing “state-supported cultural genocide.” He stated that Beijing wants to “completely eradicate an entire culture simply because it doesn’t fit within what the Chinese Communist Party deems ‘Chinese.'” He added,”we can’t sit idly by and allow this to continue,” and said, “our silence will be complicit, and our inaction will be our appeasement.”

The bill requires the US government to determine which Chinese officials are responsible for “arbitrary detention, torture and harassment” of Uyghurs and other minorities. After confirmation, the United States will freeze any assets held by these officials in the United States, and bar them from entering the country. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) led the bill in the Senate, and he urged President Donald Trump to “sign the bill without delay.”

Rubio and Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) also proposed separate legislation banning exports from all major cotton-supplying countries from Xinjiang. They believe that the phenomenon of forced labor in Xinjiang is very common, and cannot ensure that products from the region are not made by slave labor.

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China, located in the northwest of the country. In recent decades, abundant oil and mineral reserves have been found in Xinjiang and it is currently China’s largest natural gas-producing region.

The U.S. House of Representatives has also passed a tough Xinjiang bill that restricts technology exports involving large-scale surveillance. Critics worry that Beijing’s surveillance of ethnic minorities will form a new “big brother” model. The U.S. Department of Commerce imposed sanctions on eight Chinese companies, and an agency that was seen as an accomplice in the persecution or surveillance of Uighurs and other minorities last week.

The final version of the bill also requires US intelligence to submit a confidential report on the Xinjiang issue, as well as a report led by the FBI, to study how China locks in U.S. Uighur citizens and residents.

The initiative Uighur Human Rights Project expressed its gratitude to the US House of Representatives for passing this law. They emphasized that this is “the first legislation of the East Turkistan Human Rights Crisis,” which helps relevant issues be placed on the global agenda.

The Munich-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC) exile group’s statement said:

These recent developments have shown a renewed resolve from the U.S. government to take urgent, meaningful and sustained action to address the crisis in East Turkistan, that the act provides for. Once this bill is signed into law, it will constitute the first legislative initiative by a national government to address the Uyghur crisis. The bipartisan support for the act evidenced by these recent steps gives hope to the Uyghur people and a mandate for the U.S. to implement the provisions of the act as a matter of priority.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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