House votes to sanction Chinese officials over treatment of Uighurs

The House approved legislation Tuesday calling on the Trump administration to sanction Chinese officials over human rights violations involving the nation’s predominantly Muslim Uighur ethnic group.

The House version of the bill, which passed in a 407-1 vote on Tuesday evening, amends an earlier Senate bill to place restrictions on the export of devices that could be used for surveillance of the minority group or to restrict their communications.

The legislation would also require the White House to submit a list of specific Chinese officials guilty of human rights abuses to Congress within 120 days, including Chen Quanguo, party secretary for the Xinjiang autonomous region, the province where the ethnic group is concentrated in China.


“By passing this bill, Congress is showing that the United States will not turn a blind eye to the suffering of the oppressed,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a statement. “As with the Hong Kong Democracy and Human Rights Act, we are sending a simple but powerful message to the Communist Party: power cannot be maintained at the expense of the rights of the people without substantial consequences.”

House and Senate leaders are currently working to align the two versions of the bills that passed the separate chambers to advance a final version by the end of the year.

“It’s not about the particulars of it, it’s not about the policy of it,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, told Bloomberg. “We need to get something sent over here that’s acceptable to both sides and that we could hopefully persuade [the Senate] Banking [Committee] to waive jurisdiction on it.”

Chinese officials have warned that the sanctions could hurt negotiations between the U.S. and Beijing amid the broader push to reach a trade deal between the two countries.

President Trump last week signed bipartisan legislation backing protesters in Hong Kong despite previously suggesting he would not risk offending Beijing amid the ongoing trade talks.

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