Congress Discusses US Reaction to Chinese “Authoritarianism”

December 13, 2019 by Tom Ramstack
An Uyghur woman walks along an area of reconstruction in Kashgar, China. Many homes in the old urban district of Kashgar are being reconstructed, and many have been raised to build a new park. (Los Angeles Times/MCT)

WASHINGTON – Civil rights leaders and members of Congress urged that tougher policies be adopted to oppose human rights abuses in China and Hong Kong during a congressional hearing earlier this week.

They accused China of mass incarceration of political prisoners, interrogations of private citizens who committed no crimes and “surveillance state” tactics that trample innocent persons’ privacy.

So far, “the collective international response has done little to hold China accountable,” said Sophie Richardson, China director for the civil rights advocacy group Human Rights Watch.

“Quite simply, China should not be allowed to get away with human rights violations of this scope and scale,” Richardson said in her testimony for the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation.

The subcommittee is considering legislation that would blacklist Chinese companies and trade associated with the alleged abuses. It could include corporations that supply surveillance equipment to China’s military and police.

Much of the testimony during the hearing focused on the Uyghurs, an ethnic minority in China whose members include many Muslims. They are located primarily in China’s northwest Xinjiang region.

Human rights advocates estimate that since 2016, more than a million Uyghurs have been detained in Chinese re-education camps. The main goal of the camps is to ensure the Uyghurs adhere to Chinese Communist Party ideology, according to government documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The inmates are involuntarily detained for at least one year, depending on their performance on Chinese ideology tests. Their communication with family is limited to one phone call per week. The United Nations has estimated as many as one in every 10 Uyghurs is being detained in re-education camps.

The Chinese government justifies the re-education camps as an attempt to combat extremism and terrorism sometimes associated with Islam.

Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch reverse-engineered an app used by Chinese police and government officials in Xinjiang for surveillance.

“Our research into the app revealed that the authorities consider many ordinary and legal behaviors, such as ‘not socializing with neighbors,’ ‘often avoiding using the front door,’ using WhatsApp, or simply being related to someone who has obtained a new phone number, as suspicious,” Richardson said. “The app then flags such people for interrogation, some of whom are then sent to Xinjiang’s political education camps.”

The House recently approved a bill called the Uyghur Human Rights Act. It would require U.S. intelligence agencies to monitor and report to Congress on Chinese human rights abuses against the Uyghurs. It also would call on the president to impose sanctions on Xinjiang’s Communist Party secretary.

The bill is awaiting action in the Senate. Nevertheless, the Chinese government already is condemning it as an attempt to undermine its security efforts.

U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, a Minnesota Republican, said Americans should stop buying Chinese products because of the government’s human rights record. He suggested switching to products made in Taiwan.

He said China’s economic dominance allowed it to continue human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet and Taiwan.

Yoho said American manufacturers should institute an “ABC policy” in which they have their products made “anywhere but China.”

“I’m happy to support the country of Taiwan over supporting a Communist regime that I know is not looking out for human rights,” he added.

In The News

Health

Voting

Geopolitics

China Irked By US Push for Taiwan Presence at World Health Assembly
Geopolitics
China Irked By US Push for Taiwan Presence at World Health Assembly
May 14, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp

Over the last two weeks, China and the U.S. have made dueling comments about whether Taiwan should be admitted to this year's World Health Assembly, the meeting where priorities and policies of the World Health Organization are set, which will be held later this month. U.S.... Read More

US Cybersecurity Defense Must Meet Adversaries’ ‘Pace and Scale’
Geopolitics
US Cybersecurity Defense Must Meet Adversaries’ ‘Pace and Scale’
May 12, 2021
by Victoria Turner

“Make no mistake, our adversaries want to divide us to conquer us,” warned Erin Joe, section chief of the private sector office of the FBI, noting that nation-states like Russia, North Korea, Iran, and China are deploying daily cyberattacks against the US.  Opening yesterday’s CyberSatDigital conference,... Read More

Russian Economy Damaged By Western Sanctions, Think Tank Finds
Think Tanks
Russian Economy Damaged By Western Sanctions, Think Tank Finds
May 6, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp

WASHINGTON- Although western sanctions have not forced the Russian government to completely end its aggressions in Ukraine, the true impact of the sanctions has not been fully acknowledged, according to a new report from the Atlantic Council, an international affairs think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C.... Read More

Withdrawal From Afghanistan Will Diminish U.S. Intelligence Network, CIA Chief Says
Geopolitics
Withdrawal From Afghanistan Will Diminish U.S. Intelligence Network, CIA Chief Says
April 29, 2021
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee were warned by CIA Director William Burns that American intelligence operations in Afghanistan will be kneecapped by the United States’ imminent withdrawal from the region.  Burns, confirmed as the head of the CIA by the Senate last month,... Read More

Harris to tell UN Body it's Time to Prep for Next Pandemic
Health
Harris to tell UN Body it's Time to Prep for Next Pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris will make the case before United Nations members on Monday that now is the time for global leaders to begin putting the serious work into how they will respond to the next global pandemic. The virtual address, Harris' second... Read More

Carnegie Endowment Urges Biden To Reverse Trump's Israel-Palestine Policies
Geopolitics
Carnegie Endowment Urges Biden To Reverse Trump's Israel-Palestine Policies
April 22, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp

WASHINGTON - The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., says the U.S. should discard the Trump-era Israel-Palestine policies as a first step to break the status quo. The new report argues that the U.S. ought to establish clearer channels of... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top