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US lawmakers push for sanctions against China over Uighur repression

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Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio is pushing for sanctions against China,
accusing it of “gross violation of privacy and international
human rights.”

REUTERS/Mike
Segar


  • A group of bipartisan US lawmakers are pushing for
    sanctions against China over its widespread surveillance and
    repression of its citizens in the western region of
    Xinjiang.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Chris Smith spearheaded a
    letter urging sanctions against the Chinese Communist Party for
    “gross violation of privacy and international human
    rights.”
  • The region has become one of the
    most intrusive police states in the world
    , and government
    surveillance of the Uighur ethnic
    minority 

    permeates almost every aspect of
    their lives.
  • Earlier this month, a UN human rights
    panel requested action on claims that a million Uighurs may be
    held involuntarily in detention centers.
  • China has not denied the existence of these centers,
    but suggested they were part of the country’s counter-terrorism
    efforts. 

A group of bipartisan US senators are pushing hard for sanctions
against China over its widespread surveillance of its citizens in
the western region of Xinjiang.

A letter spearheaded by Sen. Marco Rubio and
Rep. Chris Smith on Wednesday called on Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to apply
Magnitsky
Act
sanctions against the Chinese Communist Party for its
repression on the Uighurs, a majority-Muslim ethnic
minority.

The Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law in the US in
2012, was originally designed to punish Russian human rights
violators. It has since been expanded to authorize the
government to sanction human rights offenders around the
world.

“The Chinese government is creating a high-tech police
state in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) that is
both a gross violation of privacy and international human
rights,”
said the letter
, which was signed by nine Republicans, seven
Democrats, and one Independent.

“The detention of as many as a million or more Uighurs and
other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in ‘political
reeducation’ centers or camps requires a tough, targeted, and
global response,” it added. 


Xinjiang police
A policeman stands guard
as children in Kashgar, Xinjiang, play on the
street.

Kevin Frayer/Getty
Images


Rubio and Smith are Republican co-chairs of the bipartisan
Congressional Executive Commission on China, which monitors
human rights and rule of law in the country. The commission has
raised the alarm on China’s policing of the Xinjiang region in
the past.

The region has become one of the
most intrusive police states in the world
, and government
surveillance of Uighurs permeates almost every aspect of their
lives.

Authorities use an expansive network of 40,000
facial-recognition cameras
 to monitor Uighur activity,
and recently began
collecting DNA samples
, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood
types from most Xinjiang residents.

China’s actions in Xinjiang have also garnered global
attention. Earlier this month, a UN human rights panel
claimed that a million Muslim Uighurs may be held involuntarily
in detention centers, referred to as “re-education camps” in
Xinjiang.

China has not denied the existence of these centers, but
called the UN claims “defamatory rumors” and has suggested they
were part of the country’s counter-terrorism
efforts. 

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