Trump Signs Sanctions Law Over China Crackdown of Uyghurs

Trump Signs Sanctions Law Over China Crackdown of Uyghurs
Photo Credit: AP / TPG Images

What you need to know

Donald Trump has signed into law an act that authorizes sanctions against Chinese officials over the mass incarceration of Uyghur Muslims. The move is likely to deliver a fresh blow to the already tense U.S.-China ties.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed into a law an act authorizing sanctions against Chinese officials over the mass detention and surveillance of Uyghur Muslims in China's western Xinjiang province. The new legislation is the most significant action by any country to punish China over its treatment of ethnic minorities.    

"The Act holds accountable perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses such as the systematic use of indoctrination camps, forced labor, and intrusive surveillance to eradicate the ethnic identity and religious beliefs of Uyghurs and other minorities in China," Trump said in a statement. 

The Uyghur Human Rights Act, which passed through Congress with near unanimous support, requires the U.S. administration to identify Chinese officials responsible for the "arbitrary detention, torture and harassment" of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. The U.S. would then move to freeze any assets held by those officials in its jurisdiction and ban their entry into the country

Photo Credit: AP / TPG Images
Many Chinese national flags are hoisted in Urumqi, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on June 28, 2018. It marked 9th anniversary of the bloody riots in China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region's capital, Urumqi on July 5, 2018.

Already tense ties

The sanctions move is likely to deliver a fresh blow to the already tense U.S.-China relations.

Nury Turkel, a Uyghur rights activist and member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, welcomed the announcement. "It is a great day for 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," he said.

Donald Trump's signing of the act comes on the same day as excerpts emerged from an explosive memoir of his former national security adviser, John Bolton. In his book, Bolton claims that Trump sought China's help in his reelection in 2020. 

Moreover, he claims that Trump was often willing to overlook China's rights abuses against

Uyghur Muslims, and even encouraged Chinese President Xi Jinping that they "should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do." 

Photo Credit: Reuters/ TPG Images
A Chinese Uyghur Muslim participates in an anti-China protest during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan June 28, 2019.

Human rights abuses

China has rounded up at least a million Uyghurs in Xinjiang and imprisoned them in what it calls "re-education camps." An investigation by DW found that most of the detainees were imprisoned due to their religious practices and culture, rather than extremist behavior.  

The detainees were forced to endure countless hours of indoctrination and language classes. A more recent report found that many were subjected to sham trials in the internment camps and convicted without evidence or due process of any kind.

The residents in Xinjiang province are subjected to draconian methods of tracking and arrests, with authorities using high-tech surveillance cameras for facial recognition.

This article was originally published on Deutsche Welle. Read the original article here.

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TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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