China livid as US bill backs rights of Uighurs

Days after passing two bills supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, the US Congress has overwhelmingly backed a bill condemning China’s treatment of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang region.

Beijing defended the crackdown, saying they are fighting terrorists trying to create unrest in the region.

It also summoned William Klein, the charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in China, to convey its strong protest against the bill.

The US House of Representatives late on Tuesday voted 407-1 in favour of the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. The bill has already been approved by the Senate. President Donald Trump has to sign it into law now.

The bill condemned “gross violations” of human rights of more than 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities by China by sending them to “re-education camps”.

Inmates of these camps are brain-washed, tortured, beaten up and denied food.   Their religious and linguistic freedom is also curtailed.

The new Act requires the imposition of sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for destroying the ethnic and cultural identities of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

The bill recognises the dignity and human rights of Muslim minorities of the region.

China condemned the Act saying it aims to promote terrorism in the region.

Washington must immediately correct its mistakes and stop using the Xinjiang-related issue to interfere in China’s internal affairs, a foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

Terrorist attacks are not happening in Xinjiang during the past three years because of Beijing’s crackdown on separatist forces, Hua said.

Days ago, Trump signed into law two bills that supported pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The bills required imposition of sanctions against Chinese officials who violate human rights and restrict freedom in the city.

Unlike mainland China, Hong Kong enjoys a certain amount of freedom guaranteed under the 1997 handover deal. That freedom expected to last until 2047 is being eroded now.

China hit back by imposing sanctions on US-based non-profits which are allegedly instigating protests in the city. It also stopped US warships from visiting Hong Kong.