Subcommittees Hold Joint Briefing on China’s Oppression of Uyghur Population
Washington D.C. (Aug. XX, 2020)—Yesterday, Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on National Security, and Rep. Ami Bera, M.D., Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, held a joint briefing on “China’s Oppression of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.”
“Let me be clear: China is committing demographic genocide against Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and Beijing must stop these human rights abuses immediately,” Chairman Lynch said.
“It is important for the United States, along with our western allies in Europe and Australia and elsewhere, to come together to make a bold statement that these types of atrocities in the 21st century are just not acceptable,” Chairman Bera said.
The Subcommittees were briefed by Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC); Jessica Batke, Senior Editor of ChinaFile at the Center on U.S.-China Relations; and Maya Wang, China Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch.
China is committing human rights atrocities in Xinjiang.
- Ms. Batke described the immense scale of ongoing human rights abuses in Xinjiang and warned, “The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has labeled what is happening in the region as constituting crimes against humanity.”
- Ms. Wang told the Subcommittees that Chinese authorities “are essentially putting under the microscope” the behavior, relationships, and movements of Xinjiang residents. Despite China’s claims that mass surveillance is part of the country’s counter-terrorism efforts, Ms. Wang stated that Uyghurs are constantly monitored “to gauge their level of loyalty or lack thereof towards the Chinese Communist Party.”
The international community, including global businesses and multilateral institutions, must do more to hold China accountable for its human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
- While acknowledging the difficulties in creating international consensus at the United Nations, Chairman Bera argued, “The Chinese do fear multilateral coalitions” and “we can have much greater impact” in changing China’s behavior if “like-minded allies that value human rights and democratic principles” join together in condemning China’s activities in Xinjiang.
- WUC President Isa urged Congress to pass H.R. 6210, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. However, he argued, “The Administration should not wait for the Congress. The U.S. should act now to declare that all products from the Uyghur region are banned because of forced labor. This will protect the American consumer from buying facemasks or clothes or ketchup made by the Chinese government genocidal forced labor chain.”
Bipartisan Members of both Subcommittees agreed it is critically important for Congress to continue to condemn China’s oppression of Muslim Uyghurs.
- In advocating for sanctions, Foreign Affairs Committee Member Brad Sherman stated, “We cannot sanction them [China] to the point where just by our actions the regime is facing a threat to their continued existence, but sanctioning does accomplish a number of things. First it meets our moral responsibility to make sure that American consumers are not buying products with slave labor, that those who are torturing Uyghurs are not visiting Disneyland in Anaheim. Second, it’s only fair that China pays some price for what they’re doing to the Uyghurs.”
- National Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Grothman emphasized how today’s briefing’s “significance goes far beyond the Uyghurs,” and argued, “what we’re seeing is the face of totalitarianism in the future.” He warned that China’s “ability to completely control the population, their ability to completely monitor all that’s going around is something we haven’t seen before.”
- Congressman Ted Yoho called for immediate action, stating “hopefully we can make this a footnote in history of where this started, but it came to an abrupt end.”