China has been engaging in some of the worst human rights abuses occurring around the globe today. The country’s actions are going largely unreported by mainstream media outlets, but U.S. lawmakers are now working to draw attention to the People’s Republic’s treatment of its Muslim population.
The House of Representatives has passed a resolution condemning China for the abuses it is inflicting on its Uighur Muslim population. If the State Department agrees to the demands listed in the resolution, will the U.S. be able to pressure the Asian superpower to cease its activities?
The measure to rebuke China passed in a House vote, 407 to one. The resolution calls on President Donald Trump to impose sanctions against senior Chinese officials in an effort to coerce the nation into ending its “gross human rights violations” against Chinese Muslims.
Beijing is not happy about this latest move by the U.S. government, as can be expected. In a statement, officials accused the U.S. of “arrogantly discrediting China’s efforts to combat terrorism.” They also claimed the country’s actions are “not a human rights, nationality, or religion issue at all, but an issue of anti-terrorism and anti-secession.” The Chinese government also threatened retaliation in response to President Trump’s recent signing of legislation that supports Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters.
The House’s new measure criticizes the Chinese government for its mass detainment of Muslims and calls on its leaders to close the re-education camps in which members of the Uighur ethnic group are being imprisoned. “Today the human dignity and human rights of the Uighur community are under threat from Beijing’s barbarous actions, which are an outrage to the collective conscience of the world,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) before the vote.
China’s government has engaged in systematic oppression against the country’s Uighur Muslim population for years. The country’s leadership has denied confining its citizens in re-education camps, claiming that these detention centers are voluntary facilities in which members of the minority group can ensure that they will not be radicalized. BBC News exposed China’s lie when it reported on government documents detailing the camps’ activities and instructions.
According to the report, about a million individuals are believed to be detained in these facilities without trial. The documents that were leaked to BBC News include a memo sent out by the deputy secretary of the Communist Party in Xinjiang (China’s westernmost province, where the Uighur population resides) to the officials running the centers. “The instructions make it clear that the camps should be run as high security prisons, with strict discipline, punishments and no escapes,” the article reads.
The prisoners are constantly monitored and controlled. “The students should have a fixed bed position, fixed queue position, fixed classroom seat, and fixed station during skills work, and it is strictly forbidden for this to be changed,” said one of the memos. Beijing is no longer trying to conceal the existence or nature of the camps, but it still claims they are necessary measures designed to prevent religious extremism and terrorism.
If the Senate passes the bill, it will request the State Department to provide a report on the Chinese government’s treatment of Muslim citizens in one year. The Commerce Department would ban U.S. exports to entities that are involved in the detention of Uighurs.
It’s not yet clear how these sanctions would influence the Chinese government’s acts against its Uighur Muslim population, but if the bill passes Congress and the president signs it into law, there could be consequences for a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China. Perhaps if Trump plays his cards right, he can solve two problems at once.
Read more from Jeff Charles.