US Congress Opens New Front Against Beijing Over Uighur Rights

The United States Congress passed a bill Wednesday that imposes sanctions on Chinese officials accused of the mass incarceration of Muslim Uighurs, which could further strain relations between Washington and Beijing.

The House of Representatives approved with a broad majority of 413 votes to one in favor of the text, approved unanimously in mid-May in the Senate.

The vote comes after the United States formally declared Wednesday that Hong Kong no longer enjoys the autonomy promised by China, and therefore that territory could be deprived of commercial advantages with the United States.

This statement from the White House responds to a controversial security law that Beijing is promoting in the former British colony.

President Donald Trump is now empowered to enact the sanctions law, which could further strain relations with China or veto the text, in which case Congress could easily muster the wills to overturn that decision.

In December, during the first vote on this project, China promised that it would “pay the price” to the United States.

US Congress Opens New Front Against Beijing Over Uighur Rights
US Congress Opens New Front Against Beijing Over Uighur Rights

The law takes up the accusations made by various human rights organizations and other western countries, which accuse China of having committed at least one million Muslims in “re-education camps” in concentration camps in Xinjiang.

Beijing denies that number and speaks of “vocational training centers” to support employment and combat religious extremism.

Raise Your Voice

The message was accompanied by the Republicans, with the representative Michael McCaul, the main member of that party in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Lower House, who accused China of a “cultural genocide sponsored by the State”.

Beijing has set out to “completely eradicate an entire culture just because it does not fit within what the Chinese Communist Party regards as ‘Chinese,'” McCaul said.

According to the approved text, the United States government must determine which Chinese officials are responsible for the “arbitrary arrest, torture and harassment” of Uighurs and other minorities.

The US administration would then freeze any assets those people had in the world’s largest economy and ban them from entering the country.

The text specifically mentions Chen Quanguo, the head of the Communist Party in Xinjiang, who was previously stationed in the Tibet region and who has built a reputation for his toughness in dealing with minorities in the Asian giant.