The US has passed a legislation that green-signals sanctioning the Chinese government who are responsible for sending two million Uyghur Muslims in forced labor camps.
The legislation, titled the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, aims at strengthening the US stance toward China.
The legislation condemns the Chinese Communist Party for the camps and recommends a tougher response to the human rights abuses suffered by Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in the region.
The passage of the legislation has been welcomed by the Uyghur Human Rights Project. It said in a statement that it was “an important first step to a more comprehensive policy response.” The World Uyghur Congress said on Twitter that the passage “gives great hope for all of us” and urged the House of Representatives to act quickly on the bill.
If the law is enacted, President Donald Trump would get six months to submit a report to Congress identifying Chinese officials and any other individuals who are responsible for carrying out torture; prolonged detention without charges and a trial; abduction; cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment of Muslim minority groups; and other flagrant denials of the “right to life, liberty, or the security of persons” in Xinjiang.
The “tainted” Chinese officials identified in the report would then be subject to sanctions but the legislation gives the White House room to opt against imposing sanctions on the officials if the President determines and certifies to Congress that holding back on sanctions is in the national interest of the United States.
The State Department will also have to assemble a report on human rights violations in Xinjiang, including estimates of how many people are confined in the camps and information on the conditions they face. The State Department currently details the abuses in its annual Human Rights and International Religious Freedom reports.
The legislation was supported by a bipartisan coalition of more than 50 senators. It was introduced by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senators passed an amended version of the bill last December, with a vote of 407-1. The Senate’s passage of the legislation is certain to invoke Beijing’s ire — the Chinese government reacted with fury to the House version, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying saying it “wantonly smeared” what China claims are counterterrorism efforts.