Smith Introduces Legislation to Counteract China’s Human Rights Abuses Against Uyghurs
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), immediate past co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, together with Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), today reintroduced bipartisan legislation—HR 649—that would provide policymakers with new tools and information to address the egregious human rights abuses committed by Chinese Communist Party officials and local authorities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Over a million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim ethnic minorities in the region have been interned in “political reeducation” camps and the entire families of Uyghur advocates for human rights in China have disappeared, including many U.S. citizens. There are reports of torture and forced labor in the camps, with possible export of goods to the U.S. market.
“This is now one of the world’s most pressing human rights challenges,” said Smith. “The Chinese government is engaged in an appalling campaign to forcibly assimilate and destroy the religion and culture of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims—we cannot be silent when such atrocities occur. There must be a coordinated and bipartisan response, from the U.S. and the international community, that will hold Chinese officials and businesses accountable for their egregious abuses and, at the same time, will protect U.S. citizens and their families.
“The brutal, religious based persecution of the Uyghurs in China is alarming. The Xinjiang province has become nothing short of a police state,” said Congressman Suozzi. “The United States government must take a stand against this violation of human rights and show the Chinese government that this is unacceptable. This bicameral, bipartisan bill is an important step in shedding light on the plight of the Uyghurs, and provides concrete policy options to address this tragic situation.”
Among other actions, the legislation:
Additional original cosponsors of the legislation include Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Joe Kennedy (D-MA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL). The bill is the House analogue to a Senate bill introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).