President Donald Trump will have another opportunity, in less than a month, to criticize the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as Washington is negotiating a trade deal with Beijing.
This time it has to do with China’s gross human rights violations.
On Tuesday, Dec. 3, the House passed a bill in a 407-1 vote. The legislation, called the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act, condemns the CCP’s detention of an estimated 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs, and others in China’s far northwest Xinjiang Province, which is home to the predominantly Muslim minority groups.
The Uighur Human Rights Policy Act would require the White House to list specific Chinese officials in charge of human rights violation to Congress within 120 days.
The bill would not only allow the Trump administration to sanction Chinese officials, including Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo who is responsible the human rights abuses. It would also allow Washington to ban Chinese exports to the United States.
Members of the Senate said, on Thursday, Dec. 5, that they expected enforcement of the legislation that was passed earlier this week to move quickly forward. Senate approval is likely to be unanimous and to happen before the Christmas and New Year holidays.
“My sense is that if it passes by an overwhelming margin as it did in the House … it’s difficult not to sign it or allow it to become law,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill.
“By passing this bill, Congress is showing that the United States will not turn a blind eye to the suffering of the oppressed,” stated House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
“We are sending a simple but powerful message to the Communist Party: power cannot be maintained at the expense of the rights of the people without substantial consequences,” McCarthy said in a statement, “as with the Hong Kong Democracy and Human Rights Act.”
China’s persecution of the Uighur people has been well documented. One report stated that as least 1 million Muslim minorities are being detained.
A November 2018 United Nations report accused the CCP of turning Xinjiang Province into a “Muslim Gulag,” or forced-labor camp.
Reuters, in collaboration with Earthrise Media, a nonprofit organization that scrutinizes satellite imagery, revealed that the CCP built in the Xinjiang region 39 facilities, the total size of about 140 soccer fields.
Chinese authorities rejected the allegations stating the Uighur camps are vocational training centers, but the facilities were heavily guarded.
A top Department of State (DOS) official in December 2018 estimated that Chinese authorities had detained about 800,000 Muslims.
But Pentagon’s figures, revealed in May this year, conveyed that the estimated number of Muslim minorities incarcerated in the CCP “concentration camps” by the CCP could have more than tripled in less than a year to nearly 3 million.
On March 13, the DOS unveiled its yearly report on human rights for 2018. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo introduced the report, denouncing China as the worst country in the world for human rights.
Then in early April this year, Pompeo condemned the CCP’s suppression of religious freedom in China. Pompeo stressed that the persecution of Muslims and Christians has reached “historic proportions.”
The DOS 2018 country report on human rights practices noted that religion is one of the key reasons the Chinese people are subject to the worst human rights abuse and torture. It mentioned the three main groups targeted by the CCP—the Muslim Uighurs, Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual discipline, and The Church of Almighty God.
In the July 24-26 U.S. government-hosted Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, the CCP’s brutal suppression of religious groups was again addressed.
“Many members of religious minority groups in China – including Uighurs, Hui, and Kazakh Muslims; Tibetan Buddhists; Catholics; Protestants; and Falun Gong—face severe repression and discrimination because of their beliefs, according to the DOS 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom: China (includes Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Macau).
“These communities consistently report incidents, in which the authorities allegedly torture, physically abuse, arbitrarily arrest, detain, sentence to prison, or harass adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and peaceful practices,” the report added.
The Uighur Human Rights Policy Act, once approved by the Senate, would direct the Trump administration to list the names of Chinese officials who could face sanctions and have their overseas assets frozen for their role in the persecution.
Additionally, the bill calls for the closure of the camps and Washington could place export restrictions on U.S. tracking and surveillance technology.
The bill is “incredibly important for the people affected by this nightmare,” said Human Rights Watch China Director Sophie Richardson. The Chinese regime would “of course be furious,” she added.
Some China analysts stated that the legislation might put the Trump administration in a delicate situation. They asserted that so far the President Trump has only been challenging China on trade matters and not on the issue of human rights violations.
The White House had not commented on the bill. It is anticipated that President Trump will sign it as he did the recent bill that supported human rights in Hong Kong.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.) expressed his pleasure that both the Republicans and Democrats are standing up to China.
“This is the 21st century,” said Graham, who continued. “We are not going to tolerate a totalitarian regime running concentration camps for people based on their religious status. ”