From his perches on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called for the U.S. to crack down on China overs its handling of Muslim minorities in that nation.
Rubio paired up with U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, to unveil the “Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act” which the Florida Republican’s office insisted was “in response to the gross violations of human rights in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, including the mass internment of over one million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities, as well as China’s intimidation and threats against U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents (LPRs) on American soil.”
Rubio unveiled the bill on Wednesday and weighed in on why he had introduced it.
“The United States must hold accountable officials in the Chinese government and Communist Party responsible for gross violations of human rights and possible crimes against humanity, including the internment in ‘political reeducation’ camps of as many as a million Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities,” Rubio said. “I’m proud to lead this important initiative that elevates the current crisis in Xinjiang, puts forth policy options to address it, and signals that we will not tolerate Chinese government intrusions on American soil.”
“The situation in Xinjiang and China’s treatment of its Uighur minority is beyond abhorrent and shines a light of China’s surveillance state tactics that threaten basic human dignity. The president needs to have a clear and consistent approach to China, and not turn a blind eye as a million Muslims are unjustly imprisoned and forced into labor camps by an autocratic regime,” Menendez said.
The bill makes the Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. State Department compile a report “regarding the regional security threat posed by the crackdown and the frequency with which Central Asian countries are forcibly returning Turkic Muslim refugees and asylum seekers” which “will also include a list of Chinese companies involved in the construction and operation of the camps.” The bill also requires the FBI to report “on efforts to provide information to and protect U.S. citizens and LPRs (including Uyghurs) from Chinese government harassment and intimidation” and another report of the U.S. Agency for Global Media “regarding efforts to intimidate Radio Free Asia (RFA) employees, the status and reach of U.S. broadcasting to Xinjiang, and analysis of disinformation propaganda by the PRC targeting Uyghur communities globally.”
The bill also urges the State Department to create a new position to handle the position and add sanctions on Chinese officials leading the efforts against the Uyghur communities.
Rubio has rounded up a host of senators, including Republican U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Cory Gardner of Colorado, John Cornyn of Texas, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democrat U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markie of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jeff Merkley of Oregon as cosponsors.