U.S. House passes The Uighur Act of 2019 seeking action over Uighur crackdown. The Uighur Act of 2019 is a stronger version of a bill that angered Beijing when it passed the Senate.

Key features:

  • It requires the U.S. president to condemn abuses against Muslims.

  • It would require the Trump administration to toughen its response to China's crackdown on its Muslim minority.
  • The Trump Administration needs to demand sanctions on senior Chinese officials.
  • It calls for the closure of mass detention camps in the north-western region of Xinjiang.
  • It calls on President Donald Trump to impose sanctions for the first time on a member of China's powerful politburo.
  • The bill contains a provision allowing the president to waive sanctions if he determines this to be in the national interest.
  • It requires the president to submit to Congress within 120 days a list of officials responsible for the abuses and to impose sanctions on them under the Global Magnitsky Act (visa bans and asset freezes).
  • It requires the secretary of state to submit a report on abuses in Xinjiang, to include assessments of the numbers held in re-education and forced labor camps.
  • It also effectively bans the export to China of items that can be used for surveillance of individuals, including facial and voice-recognition technology.

Chinese stand on Uighur and the Bill:

  • China has consistently denied any mistreatment of Uighurs.
  • It says the camps are providing vocational training to their citizens. 
  • It has warned of retaliation “in proportion” if Chen Quanguo (A politburo member of Xinjiang Communist Party - US made him responsible) were targeted.
  • It states that the US Congress is maliciously attacking the human rights conditions in Xinjiang.
  • It further blamed that The US is slandering China's de-radicalization and anti-terrorism efforts, making groundless accusations against the Chinese government's Xinjiang policies.
  • It says that the USA administration is grossly interfering in China's internal affairs

The Uyghurs of Xinjiang

  • They are a Muslim minority community concentrated in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang province.
  • They are predominantly Muslim Turkic ethnic group.
  • Xinjiang shares borders with Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
  • United Nations experts say at least 1 million Uighurs and members of other largely Muslim minority groups have been detained in the camps.

Implication on US-China relations:

  • It may hamper the Trump Administration’s deal with Beijing to end a damaging trade war impacting the global economy.
  • Recently President Trump has signed into congressional legislation supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong. It has worsened the US-China relations further. 
  • China responded by saying that the U.S. military ships and aircraft would not be allowed to visit Hong Kong.
  • China further announced sanctions against several U.S. non-government organizations.
  • China might ban all U.S. diplomatic passport holders from entering Xinjiang.
  • Beijing was also considering visa restrictions on U.S. officials and lawmakers with “odious performance” on the Xinjiang issue.

Implications on India:

  • India has raised the persecution of Uyghurs with China at the diplomatic level.
  • It may help to curb the recruitment of Uyghurs by extremist groups to act against India.
  • It may help in India's efforts to promote peace in Central Asia.
  • India opposes the Unethical uses of mass surveillance technology on the person. The act will help to strengthen its stand further. 

It is imperative for the global community to raise against human rights violations. The USA’s proposed bill needs to be evaluated carefully by India. India’s stand must favor upholding human rights values.  

Also readThe decision on Kashmir does not affect LAC, Delhi tells Beijing