Dec 4, 2019

House passes sanctions bill on China for mass detention of Uighur Muslims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The House overwhelmingly passed a bill on Tuesday that would push for sanctions against China over its mass detention of Uighur Muslims. The bill would also restrict U.S. technology and AI exports to China that could be used to facilitate detentions.

Driving the news: President Trump signed a bill to reaffirm U.S. support for Hong Kong's autonomy last week in the face of massive pro-democracy protests. In the midst of critical trade talks, China warned that it would take retaliatory measures over the Hong Kong bill if it became law.

What's next: The Uighur Act, which has bipartisan support, will head to the Senate for a vote before likely reaching Trump's desk.

What they're saying: The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to the bill by saying that the issue in Xinjiang, the northwest region in which 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominately Muslim minorities are believed to be detained, is "China’s internal affair," and it "urged the U.S. to correct its mistakes and stop the bill from becoming law," Reuters reports.

Background: The State Department imposed visa restrictions in October on Chinese government officials believed to be complicit in or responsible for the mass detention and surveillance of as many as 1 million Chinese Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups.

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China destroying documents after leaks about Uighur Muslims

A Chinese detention facility in Kunshan Industrial Park in Artux, Xinjiang region. Photo: Ng Han Guan/AP

The Xinjiang regional government in China's far west is deleting data, destroying documents and tightening controls on information, AP scoops.

Why it matters: That's in response to leaks of classified papers on mass detention camps for Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities.

Go deeperArrowDec 14, 2019

House passes bill expressing support for Hong Kong protestors, rebuking China

Pro-democracy protesters gather for a rally in Victoria Park, Hong Kong. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images.

The House voted 417-1 on Wednesday evening in favor of the Senate's unanimously-passed Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, sending the bill to President Trump's desk. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) was the sole "no" vote.

The big picture: The bill reaffirms the U.S.' commitment to supporting democracy and human rights in Hong Kong as it relates to city's autonomy. The legislation comes amid months of violent clashes between police and protestors in Hong Kong, and could set up a confrontation between the U.S. and China in the midst of Trump's high-stakes trade war. The White House has not yet commented on whether Trump intends to sign the bill.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 20, 2019

Report: Leaked files show how mass detention of Uighurs was organized

A building, believed to house a detention center, in Hotan, in the Xinjiang region of China. Photo: Peter Martin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

More than 400 pages of internal Chinese government documents obtained by the New York Times show the origins and execution of China’s detention of as many as 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominately Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.

Why it matters: This is "one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China’s ruling Communist Party in decades," per the Times. The documents, shared by an anonymous member of the Chinese political establishment, imply "greater discontent inside the party apparatus over the crackdown than previously known."

Go deeperArrowNov 16, 2019