Lawmakers in the House voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to sanction Chinese government officials responsible for internment camps in the region of Xinjiang, where up to 2 million ethnic Muslims have been forcibly detained.
The legislation, titled the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, condemns the Chinese Communist Party for the detention centers and recommends a tougher response to the human rights abuses suffered by Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in the region.
It passed with a vote of 413-1. Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie was the sole opponent.
“Beijing’s barbarous actions targeting the Uyghur people are an outrage to the collective conscious of the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said before the vote Wednesday. “This House of Representatives, in a very strong bipartisan way, we are sending a message to the persecuted that they are not forgotten. We’re saying to the president of China: you may tell these people that they are forgotten, but they aren’t.”
The Senate approved the bill two weeks ago. Now, it will go to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature. On Tuesday, he did not say whether he will sign it, telling reporters he is “taking a look at it very strongly.” The White House declined to comment when asked about the legislation Wednesday.
Under the legislation, the President would have 180 days to submit a report to Congress identifying Chinese officials and any other individuals who are responsible for carrying out torture; prolonged detention without charges and a trial; abduction; cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment of Muslim minority groups; and other flagrant denials of the “right to life, liberty, or the security” of people in Xinjiang.
The individuals identified in the report would then be subject to sanctions, including asset blocking, visa revocation, and ineligibility for entry into the United States. The legislation gives Trump room to opt against imposing sanctions on the officials if he determines and certifies to Congress that holding back on sanctions is in the national interest of the United States.