House Passes Uighur Bill Urging Sanctions on Chinese Officials

2 2019 shows buildings at the Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained north of Kashgar in China's northwestern Xinj

US lawmakers are working to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills to find a version that can pass swiftly through the US Congress before the end of this year.

Risk-off is the current theme and headlines such as this can fuel a bid in the yen.

The latest House measure condemns the mass arbitrary detainment of Uighurs and calls for closure of the re-education camps where they have been held and abused, according to rights groups and usa lawmakers.

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that would force the Trump administration to take a tougher stance on Beijing over the mass detention of Uighurs in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. It calls on President Donald Trump to impose sanctions for the first time on a member of China's powerful politburo, even as he seeks a deal with Beijing to end a trade war buffeting the global economy.

It also calls for sanctions against the senior Chinese officials it says are responsible and specifically names Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo.

Washington had already angered Beijing when President Donald Trump signed legislation supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, prompting China earlier this week to impose sanctions on US-based NGOs and suspend future visits by USA warships to the semi-autonomous territory.

Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, in October said the USA would impose visa restrictions of Chinese government officials connected to the detention of Uighurs, and accused Beijing pursuing a "highly repressive campaign".

It was the latest example in a number of overwhelmingly bipartisan congressional actions aimed at intensifying pressure on China over everything from its human rights abuses in Xinjiang to its stance on the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

"We urge the U.S. to immediately correct its mistake, to stop the above bill on Xinjiang from becoming law, to stop using Xinjiang as a way to interfere in China's domestic affairs", said the statement, attributed to the ministry's spokeswoman, Hua Chunying.

Trump said on Monday the Hong Kong legislation did not make trade negotiations with China easier, but he still believed Beijing wanted a deal.

Hua urged the U.S.to "immediately correct its mistakes" and warned that China will respond accordingly.

China has denied mistreatment at the camps, which Beijing says provide vocational training to help eliminate religious extremism and teach new skills to people of the region.

China had already moved to sanction some human rights organizations and halt US naval visits to Hong Kong in response to last week's two new USA laws - one to place the territory's special trading status under annual review and the other to ban the export of crowd control devices to the city's police.

The bill is expected to ramp up tensions as China and the USA continue to be locked in an ongoing trade war.

"We can not be silent".

Chris Johnson, a China expert at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, said passage of the bill could lead to a further blurring of lines between the trade issue and the broader deteriorating Sino-US relationship, which China in the past has tended to keep separate.

"I'm not sure it's the Xinjiang issue being more sensitive than Hong Kong, I think there's a sort of piling on factor here that the Chinese are concerned about", he said.

United States diplomats might soon be barred from entering Xinjiang, where more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are believed to be detained in internment camps. It would require the State Department to submit a report to Congress on human rights violations in the region.

It would also effectively ban the export to China of items that can be used for surveillance of individuals, including facial and voice-recognition technology.

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