Senate approves bill to sanction China over Uighur rights

Senate approves bill to sanction China over Uighur rights
© Greg Nash

The Senate this week passed legislation urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE to issue sanctions against those responsible for China’s actions against its Uighur Muslim minority as the president and his GOP allies have ramped up pressure on China over its handling of the coronavirus.

The bill introduced by Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad GOP Miami mayor does not commit to voting for Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump wants schools to reopen, challenged on 'harmless' COVID-19 remark MORE (R-Fla.) calls for the Trump administration to issue sanctions over the “gross human rights violations” against Uighurs and other Muslim groups in the country. It would condemn the internment of Uighurs and other Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang region and call for the country to close the camps. The U.S. would also revoke the visas of any officials found to have taken part in the internment of the groups, among other measures.

“The Chinese Government and Communist Party’s systematic, ongoing efforts to wipe out the ethnic and cultural identities of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang is horrific and will be a stain on humanity should we refuse to act,” Rubio said in a statement after the Senate passage.

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The bill was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate without a roll-call vote. It now must be passed by the House before being sent to the White House for approval.

The bill was previously passed in the Senate in September, Bloomberg News reported. However, the House amended the legislation to block the export of devices that could be used for spying or restricting communications or movement of members of the groups. The Senate removed that language from the version of the bill passed Thursday.

China has worked to detain an unknown number of members of the minority population in what it says are “reeducation camps.” Top administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHillicon Valley: Facebook civil rights audit finds 'serious setbacks' | Facebook takes down Roger Stone-affiliated accounts, pages | State and local officials beg Congress for more elections funds The Hill's 12:30 Report- Presented by Facebook - Trump threatens schools' funding over reopening Pompeo: State Department 'will work with Congress' on pledged funding to WHO MORE, have condemned the detainment, with Pompeo previously calling the effort an “attempt to erase its own citizens.” 

Trump has repeatedly attacked China over the coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks. Last week, the president described the pandemic as an attack even worse than Pearl Harbor or the attacks on 9/11.

"And it should have never happened. Could've been stopped at the source," he said. "Could've been stopped in China."

Trump on Thursday also said that the U.S. should end its reliance on products manufactured in China.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad State and local officials beg Congress to send more election funds ahead of November Teacher's union puts million behind ad demanding funding for schools preparing to reopen MORE (R-Ky.) on the Senate floor accused China’s Communist Party of seeking to cover up the initial coronavirus outbreak, and Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases The Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 How conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide MORE (R-Tenn.) this week urged colleagues not to take meetings with Chinese companies and “exercise caution" when meeting with Chinese officials.