The bill passed the US congress almost unanimously, with the intention of sending China a strong message on human rights. The bill comes amid worldwide outrage of the treatment of Uighur muslims in China, many of whom have been detained in detention camps and subject to torturous conditions and invasion of privacy.
The bill mandates sanctions against those responsible for oppression of members of China’s Muslim minority. The United Nations estimates that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang.
Trump issued a “signing statement” saying that some of the bill’s sanctions requirements might limit his constitutional authority as president to conduct diplomacy.
This means some requirements will be advisory, not mandatory.
Trump did not hold a ceremony to mark his signing the bill into law, which came as US newspapers published excerpts from a new book by his former national security adviser, John Bolton.
Trump signed a bill calling for sanctions against those responsible for repression of Uighur Muslims
Among other allegations in the book, Bolton said Trump sought Chinese President Xi Jinping’s help to win re-election during a closed-door 2019 meeting.
“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 legislation requires the US administration to determine which Chinese officials are responsible for the “arbitrary detention, torture and harassment” of Uighurs and other minorities.
The United States would then freeze any assets the officials hold in the the states economy and ban their entry into the country.
The bill mandates sanctions against those responsible for oppression of members of China’s Muslim minority.
Trump, while signing the act, objected to a technical aspect of the legislation on his powers as president to terminate sanctions on individuals.
The bill comes after a number of activists said that China has rounded up at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims and is forcibly homogenising them.
Activists warned earlier on this year that China has been running a brainwashing campaign on Uighurs with few modern precedents.
Beijing counters that it is running vocational educational centres that offer an alternative to Islamic extremism.
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The bill passed the US congress almost unanimously, with the intention of sending China a strong message on human rights.
The legislation requires the US administration to determine which Chinese officials are responsible for the ‘arbitrary detention, torture and harassment’ of Uighurs.
According to The Washington Post, Bolton in his upcoming book said that Xi explained the issue to Trump, who told him that the detention camps were “exactly the right thing to do.”
Bolton also claimed that Trump said Xi should go ahead with building the camps in Xinjiang.
Earlier on this year the BBC uncovered a document listing the personal details of more than 3,000 individuals from the far western region of Xinjiang.
The document sets out in intricate detail the most intimate aspects of their daily lives.
According to the BBC report, the document made up of 137 pages of columns and rows – include how often people pray, how they dress, whom they contact and how their family members behave.
China denies any wrongdoing, saying it is combating terrorism and religious extremism.
The document is said to have come, at considerable personal risk, from the same source inside Xinjiang that leaked a batch of highly sensitive material published last year.
One of the world’s leading experts on China’s policies in Xinjiang, Dr Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, said at the time he believed the leak to be genuine.
The United Nations estimates that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang.
“This remarkable document presents the strongest evidence I’ve seen to date that Beijing is actively persecuting and punishing normal practices of traditional religious beliefs,” he says.
The 311 main individuals listed are all from Karakax County, close to the city of Hotan in southern Xinjiang, an area where more than 90% of the population is Uighur.
The Uighurs are predominantly muslim and are closer in appearance, language and culture to the peoples of Central Asia than to China’s majority ethnicity, the Han Chinese.
In recent decades the influx of millions of Han settlers into Xinjiang has led to rising ethnic tensions and a growing sense of economic exclusion among Uighurs.