The House of the United States approves a Uyghur bill that requires sanctions on senior Chinese officials

WASHINGTON/BEIJING: The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill Tuesday that would require the Trump administration to toughen its response to China's repression against its Muslim minority, which led to a rapid condemnation of Beijing.

The Uighur Act of 2019 is a stronger version of a bill that angered Beijing when it passed the Senate in September. He calls on President Donald Trump to impose sanctions for the first time on a member of China's powerful political bureau, even while seeking an agreement with Beijing to end a trade war that plagues the global economy.

Last week, Trump enacted a law that supports anti-government protesters in Hong Kong despite China's annoying objections.

He, who went through 407-1 in the House controlled by the Democrats, requires that the president of the United States condemn the abuses against Muslims and ask for the closure of the mass detention camps in the northwestern region of.

He calls for sanctions against senior Chinese officials who, he says, are responsible and specifically appoints the Secretary of the Xinjiang Communist Party, Chen Quanguo, who, as a member of the Politburo, is at the top levels of China's leadership.

The revised bill must still be approved by the Republican-controlled Senate before being sent to Trump. The White House has yet to say whether Trump will sign or veto the bill, which contains a provision that allows the president to waive the sanctions if he determines that it is of national interest.

In a statement on Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry called the bill a malicious attack against China and serious interference in the country's internal affairs.

We urge the United States to immediately correct its mistake, to stop the previous bill on Xinjiang to become a law, to stop using Xinjiang as a way to interfere with China's internal affairs, said the statement, attributed to the spokeswoman of the ministry, Hua Chunying.

China has consistently denied any abuse to the Uyghurs and says the camps are providing vocational training. He has warned about retaliation in proportion if Chen were the target.

The White House and the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

China responded to Hong Kong legislation on Monday by saying that US military ships and planes would not be allowed to visit Hong Kong, and announced sanctions against several US non-governmental organizations.

Analysts say China's reaction to the passage of the Uyghur bill could be stronger, although some doubted that it would go as far as imposing visa bans on people like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who called China's deal to the Uyghurs as the stain of the century. and has been denounced repeatedly by Beijing.

Global Times, a tabloid published by the official People's Daily newspaper of the ruling Communist Party of China, tweeted on Tuesday that Beijing will soon publish a so-called list of unreliable entities that impose sanctions against those that harm China's interests.

He reported that China was speeding up the process for the list because the bill of the United States House would damage the interests of Chinese companies, and that the relevant US entities would be part of the Beijing list.

'Modern concentration camps'

The Republican representative of the United States, Chris Smith, described China's actions in the concentration camps of today in Xinjiang as boldly repressive, involving the massive internment of millions on a scale that has not been seen since.

We cannot keep silent. We must demand the end of these barbaric practices, Smith said, adding that Chinese officials must be held accountable for crimes against humanity.

The Democratic president of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, described China's treatment of the Uyghurs as an outrage to the collective conscience of the world, adding that the United States is watching.

Chris Johnson, an expert in China at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said approval of the bill could lead to greater confusion between the trade issue and the relationship between China and the United States, which in the past has tended to keep. pull apart.

I think there is a kind of accumulation factor here that worries the Chinese, he said.

Trump said Monday that Hong Kong legislation did not facilitate trade negotiations with China, but he still believed that Beijing wanted an agreement.

However, he said on Tuesday that an agreement might have to wait until after the US presidential elections of November 2020 in which he seeks a second term.

Johnson said he did not believe that the passage of Uyghur law would cause the delay, but added: It would be another spray of igniting fuel.

The House bill requires the president to present to Congress within 120 days a list of officials responsible for the abuses and impose sanctions under the Magnitsky Global Law, which establishes visa bans and asset freezes.

The bill also requires the secretary of state to submit a report on abuses in Xinjiang, to include assessments of the numbers that are carried out in re-education and forced labor camps. United Nations experts and activists say that at least 1 million Uighurs and members of other minority largely Muslim groups have been detained in the camps.

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