US House passes Uighur rights bill
Washington DC, May 27 (efe-epa).- The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that calls for the imposition of sanctions on China for its alleged abuse of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.
The House approved the bill with 431 votes in favor and one against – that of a Republican congressman – so the legislation promoted by the Senate two weeks ago will now go to President Donald Trump to be signed off.
Trump has not said whether it will be enacted into law.
The text of the bill urges the White House to impose sanctions against Chinese officials found to be responsible for the alleged abuses of the Uighurs, over 1 million of which have been forcibly detained in internment camps.
House Speaker and Democrat Nancy Pelosi said that through the bill’s approval, “we are sending a message to the persecuted that they are not forgotten.”
“We’re saying to the President of China, you may tell these people that they are forgotten, but they are not,” she added.
Wednesday’s voting was the first exercise of its kind under the new rule that allows members to cast proxy votes as introduced as part of the 45-day “remote proceedings” period during the coronavirus epidemic.
The approval of the bill further complicates the already tense diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing and comes on the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress that Hong Kong can no longer be considered autonomous from China.
The statement may have serious commercial implications for Beijing given that preferential trading terms depend on this autonomy.
Before Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997 after years of British colonial rule, the US passed a law that the government would continue to treat that territory under the same conditions applied when it was a British colony, something that could now change as a result of this decision.
The US on Wednesday also requested a UN Security Council meeting to address the proposed Chinese national security law for Hong Kong, but this was rejected by Beijing, which said that the matter is an internal one that does not concern the body. EFE-EPA