Trump signs into law bill to punish China over crackdown on Uyghur Muslims

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US President Donald Trump has signed into law a legislation that condemns the gross human rights violations of Uyghur minority groups in China’s restive Muslim-majority Xinjiang region, paving the way for imposing sanctions against senior Chinese officials.

The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, 2020 holds accountable the perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses such as the systematic use of indoctrination camps, forced labour and intrusive surveillance to eradicate the ethnic identity and religious beliefs of Uyghurs and other minorities in China, Trump said.

However, a section of the Act purports to limit his discretion to terminate inadmissibility sanctions under the Act, he said on Wednesday.

In some circumstances, this limitation could be inconsistent with my constitutional authorities , Trump said.

Reacting to the development, the Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing slammed the law, saying it “maliciously attacks” China’s policy in the Xinjiang region.

China will “resolutely hit back and the US will bear the burden of all subsequent consequences”, it said in a statement after Trump signed the Act into law.

The bill, which includes sanctions on the senior Chinese officials directly involved in the crackdown on the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, was passed with an overwhelming support from Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Senator Marco Rubio applauded the Act and said that it is an important step in countering the totalitarian Chinese government’s widespread and horrific human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), including the mass internment of over one million Uyghurs and other predominantly ethnic Turkic Muslims, as well as Beijing’s intimidation and threats against US citizens and legal permanent residents on American soil.

By signing the Act into law, President Trump took a historic step in the support of Uyghur Muslims worldwide and against China’s egregious human rights abuses and probable crimes against humanity, he said.

As the Chinese government and Communist Party of China (CPC) continue its mass internment of at least a million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities, the US will hold the CPC and its enablers accountable for their heinous crimes, said Rubio.

He is the co-chair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee that oversees human rights, and is a member of the subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy.

The internment of at least a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities is reprehensible and inexcusable, and the Chinese Communist Party and government must be held to account. This legislation is the product of a true bipartisan, bicameral effort and I look forward to its full implementation soon, said Senator Jim Risch, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) welcomed the enactment of the law.

Uyghurs around the world are celebrating, said Omer Kanat, UHRP Executive Director.

It’s the kind of news we have been waiting for, more than three years into the Uyghur crisis. But the US cannot be the sole nation acting to hold the perpetrators accountable for their crimes. Uyghurs call on countries around the world to work together against ethno-religious persecution, profiling and cultural genocide, he said.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom thanked Trump for signing the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act.

It is a great day for the American citizens as well as Uyghur and other Turkic people in China who have been subject to ghastly human rights abuses by the Communist Party of China, USCIRF Commissioner Nury Turkel said.