Uighur protections bill passes House amid partisan division on China policy

The Democrat-led House Wednesday passed on partisan lines a bill that would force companies to disclose their business transactions with manufacturers located in Xinjiang, a Chinese province where the communist government has interned more than 1 million Uighur Muslims.

The bill, the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act, proved divisive even as both chambers of Congress and President Trump push for stronger trade restrictions on China following reported abuses of religious minorities. Democrats, arguing in the bill’s favor, said that it would make it more difficult for people to import products from Xinjiang. Republicans, meanwhile, accused its sponsors of using Uighur rights as a talking point for the upcoming elections.

Michigan Rep. Bill Huizenga, a Republican, said the bill was a Democratic “window dressing” and would force unnecessary regulations on businesses by making them disclose their trade to the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the past week, he added, the House already passed on bipartisan lines another bill related to forced labor that requires companies to disclose their trade with Xinjiang to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency and calls on Trump to sanction “any foreign person who ‘knowingly engages'” in trade with Xinjiang.

“Sanctioning is the most effective way to hold these human rights abusers accountable,” Huizenga said, referencing recent attempts by the State Department and the Trump administration to crack down on China.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia, said that Republican criticism of the bill’s proposed regulations underscored the party’s lack of commitment to human rights.

“Crimes against humanity and perhaps even genocide are being committed by the Chinese government, and Republicans talk a good game but only if it doesn’t create any kind of burden on U.S. corporations or their profit margins — profit that may be earned off the backs of slave labor,” she said.

California Rep. Maxine Waters, supporting Wexton’s position, criticized Trump for his position on Uighur Muslims, referencing former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened, in which Bolton claimed that Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping that building concentration camps was “exactly the right thing to do.”

Trump in June signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, a bill that passed both houses in a near-unanimous vote, which “condemns gross human rights violations of specified ethnic Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region in China and other purposes, including specified authority to impose sanctions on certain foreign persons.”

Source Article