fter enacting legislation last week supporting the Hong Kong protests, the US government is now busy working on another bill that promises to even further piss off China.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. The act contains two key provisions which:
- Calls on President Donald Trump to condemn China’s abuses against Muslims and call for the closure of the mass detention camps in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
- Calls on Trump to impose sanctions against senior Chinese officials behind the Xinjiang camps, specifically naming the region’s party secretary, Chen Quanguo.
It was approved by a vote of 407 to 1. The lone “nay” vote came from Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie who was also the only member of Congress to vote against the Hong Kong bill. Massie has taken the stance that the US government should not “meddle in the internal affairs of foreign countries.”
Reasonable people can come to different conclusions on this vote but,
Before expressing righteous indignation re: my vote against these sanctions, please consider whether you committed enough to the issue that you would personally go a week without buying something made in China
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) December 4, 2019
The revised Uyghur bill will now go on to the Senate. If passed, it will head to the desk of the president who is still struggling to work out a trade deal with China.
China’s Foreign Ministry was quick in expressing its indignation at the bill, accusing the US of “deliberately smearing” the human rights conditions in Xinjiang, “slandering” China’s counter-terrorism efforts, and “grossly interfering” in China’s internal affairs.
While the camps in Xinjiang have drawn condemnation from governments and groups around the world, China has maintained that they are merely “vocational training centers,” insisting that everything it does in the region is necessary for combatting terrorism. Here’s more from spokeswoman Hua Chunying:
Xinjiang-related issues are not about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but about fighting violence, terrorism and separatism. Previously, Xinjiang suffered gravely from extremism, violence and terrorism. Faced with severe circumstances, the government of Xinjiang Autonomous Region lawfully fought violent and terrorist crimes while addressing the root causes. Our efforts include advancing de-radicalization, economic growth, ethnic solidarity, social harmony and stability. Thanks to those efforts, Xinjiang hasn’t seen a single terrorist attack over the past three years. Those endeavors are endorsed by all 25 million people of various ethnic groups in Xinjiang. They are also China’s contribution to the global counter-terrorism cause.
We state our position clearly to the US that as Xinjiang is part of China, its affairs are purely domestic affairs that allow no foreign interference. This US bill smears our efforts in counter-terrorism and de-radicalization, which only reveals America’s double standards on counter-terrorism and further exposes to the Chinese people its hypocrisy and malicious intentions.
The Chinese government and people are determined in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests. Under the pretext of Xinjiang-related issues, the US attempts to sow discord among various ethnic groups in China, undermine prosperity and stability in Xinjiang, and contain China’s growth. But its attempt will never succeed. We urge the US to correct its mistakes at once, prevent this bill from becoming law, and stop using Xinjiang-related issues to interfere China’s internal affairs. China will take further reactions according to how the situation develops.
This all comes after Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act last week, mandating that the US Secretary of State certify at least once a year whether Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to qualify for special US trading considerations.
In response, China banned US Navy ship visits to Hong Kong and sanctioned some American NGOs. Those relatively weak counter measures appear to be just a warning shot against more US “meddling” with trade negotiations stalled yet again and Beijing reportedly drawing up a blacklist of “unreliable entities” who harm China’s interests.