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U.S. House Votes to Sanction Chinese Officials for Rights Abuses

04 December 2019

The bill on Xinjiang follows similar legislation related to Hong Kong, which Trump signed into law last week in the face of vocal opposition from China.

Hu, who did not cite where his information came from, said that China was also considering imposing visa restrictions on USA officials and lawmakers for their "odious performance on Xinjiang issue".

Trump said on Monday the Hong Kong legislation did not make trade negotiations with China easier, but he still believed Beijing wanted a deal.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement Wednesday that the U.S.is using the Xinjiang issue to sow discord in Chinese ethnic relations and undermine the prosperity and stability of the far west region, home to the predominantly Muslim Uighur and Kazakh minority groups.

Two senior members of the Senate foreign relations committee - Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bob Menendez - welcomed the bill's passage as "an important step" in countering China's human rights abuses.

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After initially denying the camps' existence, Beijing cast the facilities as "vocational education centers" where "students" learn Mandarin and job skills in an effort to steer them away from religious extremism, terrorism and separatism.

Lawmakers are working to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills to find a version that can pass swiftly through Congress before the end of the year.

Earlier on Monday, Beijing slapped punitive measures on Washington in retaliation for the latter's backing of the widespread ongoing protests in Hong Kong, announcing sanctions on NGOs and suspending visits by United States warships and aircraft. China said Monday that it will suspend USA military ship and aircraft visits to the semi-autonomous city and sanction several American pro-democracy and human rights groups in response to the move. China retaliated to that move by saying that it would ban USA navy ships from making port calls in the territory and placing restrictions on some American non-governmental organisations. "We must demand an end to these barbaric practices", Smith said, adding that Chinese officials must be held accountable for crimes against humanity".

"Today the human dignity and human rights of the Uighur community are under threat from Beijing's barbarous actions, which are an outrage to the collective conscience of the world", she said shortly before the vote.

China will respond further depending on the development of the situation, the statement said.

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Thomas Massie, the sole member of Congress to vote against both the Hong Kong and Uighur bills, said he did so because he considered the issues to be Chinese domestic affairs.

Johnson said he did not think passage of the Uighur act would be the reason for this, but added: "It would be another dousing of kindling with fuel".

The president would be required to impose visa and financial restrictions under the Global Magnitsky Act on the listed individuals.

Rights groups say that tens of thousands of Muslims are detained in high-security prison camps across Xinjiang. It would require the State Department to submit a report to Congress on human rights violations in the region. The bill would also impose restrictions on the export of technology that enables China to pursue its detention policies in Xinjiang.

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U.S. House Votes to Sanction Chinese Officials for Rights Abuses