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(Credit: Screen grab from documentary ‘Inside China's 'thought transformation' camps – BBC)

China’s fury after US Senate pass bill to protect ‘unjustly imprisoned’ Uyghur minority

CHINA have responded with fury after the US senate ratified the bipartisan Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act (S.178), aimed at protecting the Uyghur ethnicity who have been forcibly imprisoned in re-education camps in their home region of Xinjiang province, in what has been labelled a “genocide in slow motion”.

The US Senate passed the act late on Wednesday the 11th of September.

The day after the act was announced China responded with criticism of the decision by the US senate saying the act was a “gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said: “We urge the US to respect the objective facts and abandon its cold war mentality and stop making use of Xinjiang matters to interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

The statement from Beijing went on to urge the US to “put a stop” to the act to “avoid damaging Sino-US relations”. But, Beijing has described the camps as harmless “vocational training centres” where “trainees” can learn Chinese and gain professional skills to discourage “terrorism and religious extremism”.

The Chinese state has called the incarceration “transformation through education”, but one Uyghur campaigner called Aziz Isa Elkun claims that up to three million ethnic Uyghur people are held against their will in a network of “concentration camps paralleling those of 1930’s Nazi Germany”.

But, Uygur activists say the facilities are concentration camps and some scholars have described the crackdown in Xinjiang as “cultural genocide”.

These claims have been supported by US officials, UN experts and a 2018 Human Rights Watch report that accused China of carrying out a “systematic campaign of human rights violations” against Uighur Muslims in the western province.

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who championed the bill, tweeted: “Tonight, the Senate passed my bipartisan Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act.

“This is very meaningful step in countering the widespread and horrific human rights abuses in Xinjiang by the communist party of China.”

Mr Rubio added: “It’s long overdue for the United States to hold Chinese government and Communist Party officials accountable for the systemic and egregious human rights abuses and probable crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, including the internment in ‘political re-education’ camps of more than one million Uyghurs and Muslim minorities.

“I urge the House to swiftly pass this legislation and send it to the President’s desk.

Bob Menendez New Jersey Senator said: “I am pleased that the Senate has taken action today to pass this important piece of legislation.

“This legislation makes clear that Congress will not turn a blind eye as millions of Uyghur Muslims are unjustly imprisoned, subjected to a mass surveillance state, and forced into labour camps by an autocratic regime.

“And while the Trump Administration has not seen fit to make the tragic situation in Xinjiang a priority, I am happy to see Congress is taking the necessary steps to hold accountable officials in the Chinese government and Communist Party responsible for gross violations of human rights and possible crimes against humanity.”

The act also calls on US President Donald Trump to speak out in condemnation of the human rights abuses and communicate with President Xi Jinping of China to desist from expansion and close the existing network of concentration camps.

So, what is the power of the new bill, it can in the words of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “impose targeted sanctions”.

This would be targeted at Chinese officials who are “credibly alleged” to be involved in human rights violations in Xinjiang.

Chen Quanguo is Beijing’s top official in Xinjiang province and could be hit by potential US based sanctions.


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