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On Wednesday, the Trump administration in the USA signed a legislation that allows the American Government to hold Chinese officials responsible for China’s persecution of Uighur and other Muslim minority groups. The bill, formally named the “Uighur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020,” was approved by the House and Senate in May.
Trump issued a statement that said, “the signed legislation holds accountable 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 Uighur and other minorities in China.”
Legislation asks for the closure of camps in Xinjiang
The Hill reported that the legislation objects to the treatment of Uighur Muslims and other Muslim minorities by the Chinese Communist Party. It calls for closure of such camps in the Xinjiang region of China. The legislation gives the American government the power to identify and sanction individuals responsible for the abuse of minority groups.
USA can block assets and deny visas to identified officials
Within 180 days of signing the bill, as per a report in ANI, the Trump government will submit a report to Congress that will identify each foreign individual, including officials from the Chinese government responsible for human rights abuse of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. The abuses listed in the legislation include torture, degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges and a trial, abduction and denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of a person.
The administration is required to sanction the responsible individual by blocking their assets and declare them ineligible for admission or visas to the United States. The White House has the power to waive sanctions but only after notifying Congress and that too if it is in the national interest.
Senator Marco Rubio authored the legislation. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent, and the House approved it with a bipartisan vote in May.
China condemns legislation
Chinese government’s mouthpiece Global Times posted two tweets condemning the legislation. They wrote that the legislation defames the human rights situation in China. It added that America is trying to attack China’s policy and interfering in China’s internal matters.
In the second tweet, they said that China had urged the Trump administration to correct its mistake, otherwise, China has to take countermeasures and the US will face the consequences.
#China urges #US to immediately correct its mistake and stop using the #Xinjiang-related act to interfere in China’s internal affairs. Otherwise, China will take countermeasures, and the US must bear all consequences, Chinese FM said after Trump signed “Uygur bill.” https://t.co/ykUR1pDkfO
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) June 18, 2020
Trump agreed to Xi Jinping’s reasoning behind camps, says John Bolton
The day on which the legislation was signed, The Wall Street Journal published an excerpt from a book published by former national security adviser John Bolton that alleged that during the G20 meeting of 2019 in Osaka, Trump might have agreed with the reason given by Chinese President Xi Jinping for building the camps in the Xinjiang province.
Bolton wrote, “According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,”
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) June 17, 2020
He added, “The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China.” The Department of Justice has already filed a suit against the release of the book that is set to be published next week, stating it contains classified information.
China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslims
The Chinese administration has been under fire for its treatment of Uighur Muslims and other Muslim minorities in China. In 2019, Muslims had called for a boycott of Chinese products against Chinese policies and ban on Ramzan in China. However, China has used its power to suppress the voice of leaders on the international platform. The ties between China and Pakistan are well known, and Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has refused to comment on Uighur Muslims on several occasions. Chinese video app TikTok also banned user(s) on several occasions for highlighting the plight of Muslims in the Xinjiang region.