The conflict between the United States and China seems to have proliferated to many dimensions. Along with trade clashes, the two nations have recently been engaged in a political battle, as well. After a week the U.S. President Trump signed legislation in support of anti-government protestors of Hong Kong, now the U.S. House of Representatives has approved the Uighur Act of 2019 with strong support.
The Uighur Act of 2019, once approved by the Senate and President himself, would require the president of the United States to toughen his administration’s stand on Chinese clamp down on its minority, Muslim Uighurs. This bill also calls for sanctions of some Chinese powerful politburo members. It should be noted that the original form of this bill was tabled in the Senate in September when the U.S. was negotiating a trade deal with China and at the time, the initiation of this bill angered the whole Chinese administration.
However, it is yet to be confirmed whether President Trump would give assent or veto this bill. President Trump has not been very active in speaking about the treatment of minorities in any nation; however, things may witness a drastic change with Presidential elections around the corner.
The above-said bill was passed with an overwhelming majority of 407 to 1 in the House of Representatives and this amended version of this bill has to go through the Senate again. This bill requires President Trump to be vocal about Chinese treatment to its minorities and calls for closing the detention camps in its Xinjiang province. It also calls for sanction of many high profile Chinese officials and Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who possesses immense importance in Chinese political scenario.
However, China has constantly been denying any mistreatment of Uighurs and named the alleged detention camps as vocational training camps. China has also warned the United States of likewise retaliation in case the United States continues to follow suit.
In reply to the United States’ bill, Chinese foreign ministry said that the Uighur Act of 2019 was “arrogantly discrediting China’s efforts to combat terrorism,” and it was nothing but blatant interference in China’s internal matters. The statement also stated that the situation in Xinjiang was “not a human rights, nationality, or religion issue at all, but an issue of anti-terrorism and anti-secession.”
This bill has sought the support of both Republicans and Democrats in the House. The Republican US Representative Chris Smith named Chinese actions in Xinjiang as modern-day concentration camps. He said, “We cannot be silent. We must demand an end to these barbaric practices.” He also added that Chines officials must be held accountable for this crime against humanity.