Published: Wed, December 04, 2019

US House passes bill seeking tougher action on Uighur detentions

US House passes bill seeking tougher action on Uighur detentions

The Uighur Act of 2019 condemns Beijing's "gross human rights violations" linked to the crackdown in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where upwards of one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are believed to be held in re-education camps.

The foreign ministry, in a statement attributed to spokeswoman Hua Chunying, said Xinjiang is China's internal affair and urged the correct its mistakes and stop the bill from becoming law.

The House version of the Uighur human rights measure amends a Senate bill passed without objection in September.

Any response from China on the Xinjiang issue that hits USA companies would add another obstacle as the world's two biggest economies struggle to finalize a phase-one deal to de-escalate their trade war. "China will respond accordingly to the development of the situation".

Among other provisions, the bill requires the president to submit to Congress within 120 days a list of senior Chinese government officials who have committed human rights abuses against Uighurs in Xinjiang or elsewhere in China.

ON Monday, Trump said that trade talks with China had been complicated by legislation he signed last week threatening sanctions on officials who undermine Hong Kong's semi-autonomy from Beijing.

Congress "is taking a critical step to counter Beijing's horrific human rights abuses against Uighurs", she said.

Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi called China's treatment of the Uighurs "an outrage to the collective conscience of the world".

Mr Mendendez, the top Democrat on the foreign relations committee, said it was "recognition that the U.S. government can not afford to stand idly by as millions of Uyghur Muslims continue to be unjustly imprisoned, subjected to a mass surveillance state, and forced into labour camps by an autocratic regime".

Government papers obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) outlined the need to prevent escape, double lock doors and constantly monitor detainees - even during toilet breaks.

China says it is fighting extremism, separatism and terrorism.

The vote is sure to draw China's ire.

According to Chinese authorities, the detention camps are vocational education and training centers for people to learn language and law, as well as gaining some professional skills.

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

The bill would also tie USA policy toward China to the Chinese government's actions in Xinjiang and the treatment of the Uighurs.

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

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

Republican US Representative Chris Smith called China's actions in "modern-day concentration camps" in Xinjiang "audaciously repressive", involving "mass internment of millions on a scale not seen since the Holocaust".

"The Chinese government and Communist party is working to systematically wipe out the ethnic and cultural identities of Uighurs", said Mr Rubio, adding that he would push for passage in the Senate.

"Each and every speech on the House floor tonight was a forceful indictment of crimes against humanity", said UHRP executive director Omer Kanat.

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