Washington: The US Senate gave unanimous consent to legislation that would impose sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights abuses against Muslim minorities, an action sure to anger Beijing as anti-China sentiment rises in Congress.
The bill, introduced by Senator Marco Rubio, would condemn the internment of more than 1 million Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region of China and calls for closing the camps where they are being held. It would require President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on and revoke the visas of any officials found to be responsible for the oppression of the Uighurs.
The Chinese government’s actions are “horrific and will be a stain on humanity should we refuse to act,” Rubio, a Florida Republican, said in a statement.
The Senate first passed the bill in September, but the House amended it to restrict the export of devices that could be used to spy on or restrict the communications or movement of members of the group and other Chinese citizens.
The Senate stripped that language from the version passed Thursday, S. 3744, and the House must clear it before it goes to Trump for his signature or veto.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 14, 2020
Trump and officials in his administration have faulted China for the global coronavirus outbreak, and Republicans are seeking to increase pressure on the Chinese government on several fronts.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor accused China’s Communist Party of trying to cover up the initial outbreak and said it’s attempting to silence Chinese lawyers, activists and others trying to get at the truth.
In the House, Republicans last week created a China Task Force to investigate the origins of the coronavirus and how the World Health Organization handled reports of the initial outbreak. Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, who is leading the task force, said in an interview that it won’t be a “partisan exercise” but a look at Chinese influence through a “Covid-19 lens.”
Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, said the U.S. would “not again, not ever” rely on information from international health bodies like the WHO.
“It is the Chinese Communist Party that is at fault,” Barrasso said. “The virus could have been contained had it not been for the Chinese government’s unscrupulous coverup.” –Bloomberg