U.S. Congress report urges sanctions for China’s ‘crimes against humanity’

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Photo credit: Uyghurs hold up pictures of friends and relatives who have disappeared in Xinjiang, at the annual report launch of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China in Washington, D.C. Image via Peter Mattis.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) in Washington, D.C., today released its annual report, this time a 323-page document that covers developments across many dimensions in Chinese society from August 2018 to August 2019.

The report this year used harsher language than before to condemn China’s treatment of its Muslim minorities, and called for sanctions on China under the Global Magnitsky Act. It also for the first time described Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang as potential “crimes against humanity.”

Axios reports:

The report listed four acts committed by Chinese authorities that could quality as crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute [of the International Criminal Court]:

  • The arbitrary detention of Uyghur, Kazakh, and other ethnic minorities in China in well-documented mass internment camps;
  • The torture of detainees in those camps;
  • The detention of people and suppression of religious and cultural traditions in ways clearly targeted against specific minority groups;
  • The forced disappearances of hundreds of intellectuals in the region.

Reuters has more:

The Commission is led by Democratic Representative Jim McGovern and Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

Negotiators were working on a new version of a bill [the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act] that would require President Donald Trump’s administration to toughen its response to China’s crackdown on its Muslim minorities, the two lawmakers said at a press conference unveiling the report.

China had reacted angrily when the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed the bill late last year. It stalled in the Senate, which passed its own, less stringent bill earlier in the year, amid trade talks between Washington and China.

Rubio said he expected a version of the bill that could pass the Senate unanimously — avoiding procedural snafus that could block legislation in that chamber — and pass the House and be signed into law by Trump.

McGovern said he expected a compromise bill would move forward in 2020, “hopefully soon,” in both the Senate and House, and he expected Trump would sign it.

—Lucas Niewenhuis