House passes bill that would sanction Chinese officials over Xinjiang camps

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The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation that would impose sanctions on senior Chinese officials responsible for the forced labor camps that have targeted Uighur Muslims and other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region of China.

The bill — introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — passed the upper chamber by unanimous consent earlier this month and is now heading to President Trump’s desk. 

Under the legislation, Trump would revoke visas and inflict sanctions against Chinese government officials found responsible for human rights violations against Uighurs. The measure also calls for the State Department to assemble a report on human rights violations.

Proponents of the bill praised it as a necessary step in stopping oppression in the region.

“Beijing has leveraged its economic clout to silence criticism and its horrific human rights abuses. So many countries, particularly Muslim countries that always speak out when any group of Muslims is being denied their human rights, have been pressured into silence,” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said on the floor ahead of the vote. 

“And now China wants the world to forget about the Uighurs as we grapple with this global pandemic. We must push back. Today we send a message that we stand with the Uighurs, fight for the oppressed, and we will not forget.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, applauded the legislation, saying it will hold China accountable for human rights abuses.

“The ultimate example of what the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is willing to do in the name of national security has been clear for some time. And that is the cultural genocide of the Uighurs and other ethnic minority Muslim groups in western China,” he said on the floor.

“Over the last several years, these ethnic minorities have been rounded up and forced into concentration camps where they are brain warned for state propaganda and forced to do grueling work as part of their freedom,” he added.

The bill’s passage comes amid strong tensions between the United States and China over the country’s handling of the initial outbreak of the coronavirus. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also declared that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, which is expected to lead to significant changes in trade and economic relations between the countries. 

Tags Brad Sherman Donald Trump Marco Rubio Michael McCaul Mike Pompeo
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