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Rubio, Colleagues Urge Trump Administration to Sanction Human Rights Violators in China’s Xinjiang Region
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair and cochair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), led a bipartisan group of Senate and House members to urge Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to swiftly impose sanctions against those individuals and entities complicit in and directing human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
Rubio recently discussed the Xinjiang issue on Tucker Carlson Tonight and wrote an op-ed on China’s campaign against Uyghur and other Muslim minorities. Last month, Rubio chaired a CECC hearing on the serious and deteriorating human rights situation faced by Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. In February, following reports detailing Chinese authorities’ data-banking efforts, Rubio raised concerns with Thermo Fisher Scientific, an American company supplying DNA sequencing equipment to Xinjiang police.
Joining Rubio and Smith were U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Angus King (I-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), James Lankford (R-OK), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and U.S. Representatives James McGovern (D-MA), James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Eliot Engel (D-NY).
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Secretaries Pompeo and Mnuchin:
We write to you as Commissioners of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and Members of Congress concerned about the ongoing human rights crisis in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where Muslim ethnic minorities are being subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, egregious restrictions on religious practice and culture, and a digitized surveillance system so pervasive that every aspect of daily life is monitored. Given the gravity of the situation, and the severity and scope of the rights abuses being perpetrated, we urge you to apply Global Magnitsky sanctions, and consider additional measures, against senior Chinese Government and Communist Party officials who oversee these repressive policies, including XUAR Party Secretary Chen Quanguo.
The Chinese government is creating a high-tech police state in the XUAR that is both a gross violation of privacy and international human rights. Recently, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) convened a hearing on this issue in which a panel of expert witnesses—including Ambassador Kelley E. Currie, U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations)—testified to the grave and deteriorating situation on the ground in the XUAR. Ambassador Currie rightly characterized the scope of China’s campaign in Xinjiang as “truly breathtaking.” The detention of as many as a million or more Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in “political reeducation” centers or camps requires a tough, targeted, and global response. The complete written testimony of the senior U.S. Government official is included for your reference. No Chinese official or business complicit in what is happening in the XUAR should profit from access to the United States or the U.S. financial system.
There have been recent reports of deaths in custody, including suicides, in Xinjiang, and the Chinese government shows no sign of halting these rights violations. There is also evidence of an accelerated campaign to build additional detention facilities. Among those detained are dozens of family members of U.S.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) Uyghur Service journalists, as well as family members of prominent Uyghur rights activist Rebiya Kadeer. We welcome both Vice President Mike Pence’s remarks regarding Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang at the State Department’s recent Ministerial to Advance International Religious Freedom, as well as the State Department’s statements condemning the detention of the families of Radio Free Asia Uyghur Service journalists. We are hopeful that the State Department will seek additional opportunities to condemn these abuses while also undertaking robust diplomatic engagement with likeminded governments to further elevate this human rights crisis in international forums and multilateral institutions.
We therefore urge the Departments of State and Treasury to swiftly act to sanction those individuals and entities complicit in and directing human rights violations in the XUAR. Specifically, we urge you to sanction Chen Quanguo, XUAR Communist Party Secretary and Politburo Member, and other XUAR officials complicit in human rights abuses, under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (P.L. 114-328, Subtitle F). We also urge consideration of sanctions under Executive Order 13818—which expands the actors and entities subject to sanction under the law—against entities assisting XUAR officials in mass detentions and surveillance of ethnic minorities, including Chinese companies like Hikvision and Dahua Technology that have profited greatly from the surge in security spending, reportedly winning upwards of $1.2 billion in government contracts for large scale surveillance projects.
We believe that targeted sanctions will have an impact. At a time when the Chinese government is seeking to expand its influence through the Belt and Road Initiative, the last thing China’s leaders want is international condemnation of their poor and abusive treatment of ethnic and religious minorities.
We have enclosed a list of additional names for your consideration. The bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China has been monitoring developments in the XUAR closely and stands ready to provide additional information or support as needed. We look forward to working with you on this important issue.