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US Lawmakers Approve Bill Denouncing China's Treatment of Uyghurs


FILE - Uighur security personnel patrol near the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang, Nov. 4, 2017.
US Lawmakers Approve Bill Denouncing China's Treatment of Uyghurs
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The United States House of Representatives has passed a bill that calls for official actions against China over its treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

The House approved the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act by a vote of 407 to 1 on Tuesday. The bill requires the American president to condemn China’s abuses against Muslims. It also calls for China to close mass detention camps in the western region of Xinjiang. And the measure urges the U.S. to order restrictions on Chinese officials considered responsible for the mass detentions.

China on Wednesday warned that the legislation could harm U.S.-China relations. It described the bill as an attack on China and demanded that the United States keep it from becoming law.

An estimated 1.8 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim ethnic minorities have been detained in China’s so-called “re-education camps” since 2017. China says it not detaining Uyghurs and others against their will. It describes the camps as “job training centers” meant to reduce extremism and teach new skills.

The U.S. Senate passed a similar bill in September. The two measures will be combined and the House and Senate will vote on that final document. If it passes, the measure will go to President Donald Trump for consideration.

The White House has not said whether Trump would sign or veto the bill.

The Uyghur Human Rights Project, an advocacy group, praised the vote and urged quick enactment of the bill. The group called it an important message to China “that the international community is not ignoring the crimes against humanity taking place…”

The House approval of the bill comes less than one week after Trump signed separate human rights legislation on Hong Kong.

That measure expresses support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

China answered that measure with a ban on U.S. military ships and aircraft visits to Hong Kong. It also strengthened restrictions on several U.S.-based non-governmental organizations, including Freedom House and Human Rights Watch.

Observers say China’s answer to the passage of the Uyghur bill could be even stronger.

On Wednesday, reporters asked Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying whether the Uyghur bill could affect trade talks between the United States and China. Negotiators continue to work on a deal to end the 16-month trade war between the countries.

“Do you think if America takes actions to hurt China’s interests we won’t take any action?” Hua answered. “I think any wrong words and deeds must pay the due price.”

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Ashley Thompson adapted this story based on reports by Reuters, the Associated Press, VOA News and Radio Free Asia. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

advocacy - n. the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal

enactment - n. the act of make (a bill or other legislation) officially become part of the law

deed - n. something that is done

due - adj. appropriate or proper

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