US Seeks to Sanction China over ‘Mass Detention’ of Chinese Muslims

Rabat – US lawmakers are pushing for Washington to take a firmer stance on China’s controversial treatment of Uighur Muslims.Rabat – Rekindling debates on a damning bill for Beijing, the US Senate on Thursday put on the floor a bill that would see Washington impose a host of sanctions on Beijing over its “discriminatory” measures against Chinese Muslims. The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, as the bill is called, entails “creation of positions within the State Department, FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies to study issues related to the ongoing internment program,” the Washington Post reported yesterday. While the move comes amid tense China-US relations, particularly in the domains of trade, technology, and security intelligence, the bill is not without precedence.Read Also: Crackdown Against Muslims: China Closes Three MosquesAccording to the Post’s report, a similar move was initiated in November amid global outcry over China’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims in the country’s Xinjiang region. But that first move did not succeed because the bill “was not taken in the Senate before the congressional session ran out.”While “pressuring” China toward more decent treatment of Xinjiang’s Uighurs, the move also entails monitoring by the FBI of US-residing Chinese Muslims. The goal is to investigate China’s “intimidation” outreach in the US and assess whether and how Uighurs living in the US have been “intimidated… [by China’s] globe-spanning efforts over the last two years to repatriate them for indoctrination.”Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Robert Menendez of New Jersey are the two driving forces behind the revival of the bill. Both senators said it is about the US holding China more accountable for its numerous breaches of geopolitical norms, especially on trade and human rights.Read Also: Persecuted Muslim Uighurs of China Call on Muslim Countries for Help“The time to act is now,” said Rubio. Also included in the bill are proposals to issue travel and financial bans on Chinese officials linked to the Uighur detention centers.Senator Menendez said the US has a solemn obligation to stand up to China’s “autocratic regime.” He said, “I am proud to help lead this important effort so we don’t abandon our values and simply turn a blind eye as a million Muslims are unjustly imprisoned and forced into labor camps by an autocratic Chinese regime.”Making Islam compatible with Chinese identitySince August 2018, China has faced global outcry for rounding up over a million Uighurs and detaining them in what the Chinese regime calls “counter-extremism centers” or “political reeducation camps.”The UN has denounced Beijing’s “arbitrary” and “mass detention” of thousands on the basis that their religion makes them “enemies of the state.” Some critics went as far as suggesting that China was “treating Islam like a mental illness.” Such criticism pointed out the Chinese regime’s “official” take on religion—especially Islam—as a venue for extremism and anti-communist indoctrination.Read Also: China Arrests Muslims in Xinjiang Province for Not Drinking AlcoholMeanwhile, Beijing has constantly sniffed at the outcry. China says the condemnations of its move are “biased” and stem from a West-driven “hysteria” only seeking to interfere with the country’s internal affairs. Beijing maintains that what the UN’s and other equally “biased” reports have called a crackdown or mass detention are in fact “education camps” for Uighurs to make their religion “more compatible” with Chinese identity. Earlier this month, China passed a law that sought to make Islam more Chinese. According to Chinese officials, the law envisions “guiding Islam” by rethinking how it is practiced in a Chinese context and making it “more compatible with socialism.”

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