Trump signs bill to sanction China over crackdown on Uighur ethnic group

The White House is allowed to waive sanctions if Trump deems it in the national interest, but the president is required to notify Congress that he plans to do so.
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed legislation that calls for him to impose sanctions on Chinese officials for Beijing's crackdown on the minority Muslim Uighur ethnic group.

The House of Representatives and Senate sent the bill, formally entitled the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, to the President in May, The Hill reported.

The legislation condemns the Chinese Communist Party for its treatment of Uighur Muslims and other Muslim minorities and calls for the camps in China's Xinjiang region to be closed. It directs Trump to identify and sanction individuals responsible for abuses of minority groups.

Within 180 days of signing the bill into law, Trump is required to submit a report to Congress identifying each foreign individual, including Chinese government officials, determined to be responsible for human rights abuses of individuals in the Xinjiang region, including torture, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges and a trial, abduction, and "other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty or the security of persons."

The bill requires the administration to sanction those individuals deemed responsible by blocking their assets and declaring them ineligible for visas or admission to the United States.

The White House is allowed to waive sanctions if Trump deems it in the national interest, but the president is required to notify Congress that he plans to do so.

Trump issued a statement saying the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 would hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable, but noting that a section of the law would interfere with executive authority to terminate certain sanctions and the administration would treat that section as non-binding.

Nury Turkel, a lawyer and Uighur rights advocate and member of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, thanked the president in a social media post. It's a great day for America and the Uighur people, he wrote.

Members of Congress intended the legislation to increase pressure on China over the crackdown in Xinjiang, where authorities have detained more than a million people from mostly Muslim ethnic groups that include Uighurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz in a vast network of detention centres.

It would impose sanctions on specific Chinese officials, such as the Communist Party official who oversees government policy in Xinjiang.


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