The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that condemns the “arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment” of Uighur Muslims in China.
The House bill, called the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act 2019, condemns the abuse of Uighur Muslims in China and calls for “targeted sanctions” on members of the Chinese government, including Communist Party secretary in the Xinjiang autonomous region, Chen Quanguo.
The House of Representatives passed the bill 407 to 1 but will still need the approval from the Senate and President Donald Trump before taking effect. In response, China expressed anger over the legislation, calling it a “gross interference”.
However, Uighur rights groups welcomed the passage of the bill, saying this would send an important message to China. The bill’s passage comes just days following President Trump’s decision to sign into law a bill that supports pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, which also angered China.
The bill at a glance
The bill was drafted “to address gross violations of universally recognized human rights, including the mass internment of over 1,000,000 Uighurs”. It accuses China of systematically discriminating” against Uighurs by “denying them a range of civil and political rights, including the freedoms of expression, religion, movement and a fair trial”.
It specifies some of the policies the Chinese government implements against the Uighurs in Xinjiang, including pervasive, high-tech surveillance such as collection of DNA samples from children, the use of QR codes outside homes to gather information on how frequently individuals pray, as well as facial and voice recognition software and “predictive policing” databases.
Republican Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who also voted against the Hong Kong bill, was the only one who voted against the bill. In a tweet, Massie tried to justify his decision, arguing: “When our government meddles in the internal affairs of foreign countries, it invites those governments to meddle in our affairs.”