A powerful bipartisan group of over a dozen American senators has introduced a legislation against China, accusing it of committing “gross” human rights abuses of a million Uyghur Muslims in its restive Xinjiang province.
The Uyghur Human Right Policy Act accuses China of gross violations of human rights in Uyghur Autonomous Region, including the mass internment of over one million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities.
It also accuses China of intimidation and threats against US citizens and legal permanent residents (LPRs) on American soil.
“The United States must hold accountable officials in the Chinese government and Communist Party responsible for gross violations of human rights and possible crimes against humanity, including the internment in ‘political reeducation’ camps of as many as a million Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities,” Senator Marco Rubio said.
Alleging that China’s treatment of its Uyghurs is beyond abhorrent, Senator Bob Menendez said Beijing’s surveillance state tactics threaten basic human dignity. “The President needs to have a clear and consistent approach to China, and not turn a blind eye as a million Muslims are unjustly imprisoned and forced into labour camps by an autocratic regime,” he said.
US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet in Argentina later this month on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit.
Among other co-sponsors of the legislation include senators Cory Gardner, Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn, Ed Markey, Richard Blumenthal and Elizabeth Warren.
Seeking a State Department report regarding the scale and scope of the crackdown, the legislation urges high-level US engagement on the issue, the establishment of a new “double-hatted” position at the State Department (a Special Coordinator for Xinjiang) while the crisis persists.
The legislation calls for a report by the Director of National Intelligence regarding the regional security threat posed by the crackdown and the frequency with which Central Asian countries are forcibly returning Turkic Muslim refugees and asylum seekers. The report will also include a list of Chinese companies involved in the construction and operation of the camps.
Congressman Chris Smith, co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, along with Thomas Suozzi and eight other lawmakers introduced a similar bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives.
“The internment of over a million Uyghurs and other Muslims in China is a staggering evil and should be treated by the international community as a crime against humanity,” said Smith.
“The Chinese government’s creation of a vast system of what can only be called concentration camps cannot be tolerated in the 21st century,” he asserted.
This legislation gives the administration the tools to take a firm stand against Beijing’s plans to erase the religious identity, culture and language of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s western province, he added.
Smith said the Chinese government officials should be held accountable for their complicity in “gross violations” of human rights and US businesses should be barred from helping China create a high-tech police state in Xinjiang province. “The brutal, religious based persecution of the Uyghurs in China is alarming. Xinjiang province has become nothing short of a police state,” said Suozzi.
The legislation calls for an FBI report to provide information on the harassment and intimidation experienced by ethnic Uyghurs and Chinese nationals studying or working temporarily in the US by Chinese officials.
It also urges the Secretary of State to submit an interagency report assessing the number of persons detained in re-education camps, the conditions in those camps, the number of those arbitrarily detained, the situation of press freedom and the gross violations of other universally recognised rights, and repressive surveillance methods used by authorities in the region.