Rushing through the House with near-unanimous backing on Tuesday, the bill declares US support for the Uighurs, a Muslim minority group based in China’s Xinjiang province. The bill is a modified version of a similar law introduced in the Senate, but adds provisions calling for sanctions on Chinese officials overseeing policy in Xinjiang and bars exports of surveillance gear that could be used to spy on citizens.
“We must tell the US side that Xinjiang affairs are purely China’s internal affairs and that no foreign interference is allowed,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the bill “deliberately smears China’s counter-terrorism and de-extremization measures.”
We urge the US to immediately correct its mistakes, prevent the aforementioned Xinjiang-related bill from becoming law.
While Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang have come under fire as excessive by some human rights advocates – namely placing hundreds of thousands of Uighurs in “reeducation camps” in hopes of discouraging radicalism – Chinese officials argue the measures are necessary to combat terrorism in the region. A UN General Assembly meeting in October underscored the international divide on the matter, with two camps issuing competing statements on the situation in Xinjiang, one defending China’s policies there, the other condemning them.
The ministry also slammed Washington for what it called “double standards on counter-terrorism” – perhaps referring to the US’s on-off policies of arming Islamist militants around the world – and said the Uighur bill would only further expose the government’s “hypocrisy and sinister intentions.”
According to the Communist Party-affiliated Global Times, Beijing is preparing to publish its “unreliable entity” blacklist in retaliation to the bill, which it has threatened to do since May, after Washington penalized Chinese tech giant Huawei. The blacklist is expected to include large American firms such as Apple, which would be barred from doing business in China. The country is also reportedly mulling visa restrictions for US officials.