Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), chair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), convened a hearing on the serious and deteriorating human rights situation faced by Uyghur Muslims and members of other Muslim ethnic minority groups and highlighted that U.S. and multi-national corporations are selling products to the Chinese government that assist in its repression and human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
 
Witnesses at the hearing testified to the existence of “political reeducation” centers or camps throughout Xinjiang where upwards of 800,00 to 1 million people are held and subjected to torture, medical neglect and maltreatment, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, and other forms of abuse resulting in the death of some detainees.  Rubio pointed to Google Earth image clearly depicting the construction of the camps over a several month period.  Expert witnesses also testified to the data-driven surveillance in Xinjiang assisted by iris and body scanners, voice pattern analyzers, DNA sequencers, and facial recognition camera in neighborhoods, on road, and in train stations.
 
In February, Rubio raised concerns with Thermo Fisher Scientific, an American company supplying DNA sequencing equipment to Xinjiang police. Amid reports detailing Chinese authorities’ mandatory data-banking efforts in the XUAR, the letter urged Thermo Fisher Scientific to ensure its products are not being misused, especially “given that China lacks the kinds of legal safeguards that other countries implement to manage their DNA databases.”  In May, Rubio, and CECC cochair Rep. Smith, also wrote Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross seeking answers about the sale by U.S. companies of surveillance and crime control technology used by Chinese security forces and police.  The letter posed a series of questions regarding export controls and raised the possibility restricting the end-users of such technologies, in this case Xinjiang Public Security and related entities.
 
Members of the Commission also urged the Administration to consider the application of Global Magnitsky Sanctions against senior government and Party officials in Xinjiang responsible for these rights violations, including Party Secretary Chen Quanguo.   In April, Rubio and Smith wrote U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad and urged him to begin collecting information on senior officials involved with the mass detention of Uyghurs, for possible Magnitsky sanctions.
 
A partial and rough transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below:
 
What we are going to hear today is stuff from like a horrible movie. I mean just these are crazy things. Things that we've read about that used to happen thousands of years ago or things that happen under these regimes in a science fiction novel. I mean talking about forcing people to eat certain foods that violate their dietary laws of their religion, controlling what people name their children, trying to strip their identity from them both religious and ethnic. The list goes on. These are some of the most horrifying things that are happening in the world today. That it doesn't lead newscasts in the country and around the world in and of itself is problematic. And then in this free country that we have – this is what I was alluding to at the beginning - we have multinational corporations who have every right, and I don’t criticize them for this, they have every right to be involved civically in our country… 
 
When things happen in America and they don’t like it, they stop selling products, they boycotted cities and towns. They’ve done all sorts of things and it’s their right to do so. These are the same companies that are up here every day in Washington, D.C. lobbying for us not to raise these issues so they can have access to China’s 1.3 billion person marketplace. And I just think it’s hypocritical for American corporations and multinationals doing business in China, who are fully prepared to boycott American cities and American communities because they don’t like things that are happening here, to be okay to turn a blind eye to what’s happening and not criticize the government of China and the Communist Party because they don’t want to jeopardize their ability to sell products in that country. It’s an outrage. It’s an embarrassment.
 
Again, I doubt this is going to make it on the CBS Evening News or any of the cable news shows tonight. But this is outrageous and it’s hypocritical. And the international organizations that stand by and say nothing. Why? Because China went into someone’s country and built a road or a bridge. Or maybe bribed them and gave them a billion dollars to be quiet and go along. This is sick. And I just don’t understand why there isn’t more coverage of this and why there isn’t more understanding of who we are dealing with, and what they’re up to, and what they do.
 
And the next time someone comes to me and says, well you don’t understand China, their peaceful rise. I have no problem – I have tremendous admiration for the ancient culture and history of China and its people.
 
I want China to be a key player in the world. We would love to have some help in dealing with all of the challenges on this planet. It would be great to have another superpower to partner with. But this is what these people with the power they have now. Imagine what they will do when that power grows militarily, economically, and geopolitically. Because if this is how you treat your own people, how do you expect them to treat people in some other part of the world? And I hope people wake up and understand what we are confronting here – the grave crisis that it presents.
 
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Representative Smith and I wrote a letter, it’s dated May 9th, 2018, to [Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross]. We were asking for answers about the sale by U.S. companies selling surveillance and crime control technology that's being used by Chinese security forces and by their police. We specifically raised concerns about a company named Thermo Fisher Scientific which is a company in Massachusetts, which reportedly is selling DNA sequencers with advanced micro processors to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and its public security bureaus across China. The reply we got from Commerce noted that these DNA sequencers have a legitimate end use. Which I'm sure they have a legitimate end use but they also have an illegitimate end use
 
And so what other recourse do we have if we know that this material is being used in this manner? What other recourse do we have other than to restrict their sale despite the fact that they may have some legitimate use? Theoretically there's legitimate use for any product that's sold abroad but we don't sell these products because they are misused by the people who are buying them. Why do we continue to allow the sale of American technology to be used to commit these level of atrocities?
 

 
It sounds like [Commerce Department’s] answer was these companies may have legitimate business interests and make money in China selling these DNA sequencers in the whole country and most of those things they sell in the country are used legitimately and we don't want to unnecessarily burden their ability to make a profit just because a small but significant percentage of their sales might be being used in this way. And if that is the direction we're going I just find that to be unacceptable. It is true. They can buy this from other countries and other companies want to sell it to them. I think for us it comes down to the purpose of whether or not we want companies housed in the United States – benefiting from American research, from our freedom, from the protection of our rule of law – to somehow be complicit in what’s happening here and how their technology is being used. And the fact that they are making some money in China is, in my mind, not something that should counterbalance that concern. I know you don't make the decisions but hope [this is] reported back out.
 

 
The administration had an opportunity to sanction ZTE – they did, basically issuing a death penalty. Allowed them to come back into business by allowing them to buy chips from Qualcomm. Qualcomm had a pending deal in China and the response of the Chinese government after the ZTE thing got finalized is to continue to slow dance Qualcomm, an American company, until the point where they have abandoned their hopes of doing business in China. Basically ,they continue to sustain their pressure while we have given concessions on some things. I hope that was enlightening for the administration.