This bill — known as the UIGHUR Act — would aim to counter the mass arbitrary detention of Turkic Muslims, including Uighurs, in “political reeducation” camps by the Chinese government in the Xinjiang region. It would require federal agencies to produce reports related to the persecution in Xinjiang (described in greater detail below), block exports of technologies that could further that persecution, consider imposing sanctions on officials & entities involved, and pressure the Chinese government to stop the repression through various diplomatic efforts.
The bill begins by listing several findings about the persecution of the 13 million Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, including:
That the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has estimated that roughly 1 million ethnic or religious minorities are being arbitrarily detained in “political reeducation” camps.
That the arbitrary detention of persons based on their religious or ethnic background, without due process or credible individualized allegations of wrongdoing are a severe violation of international norms and standards.
The State Dept. would be directed to advocate for the release of detainees, an end to the use of “political reeducation” camps, and the immediate cessation of government persecution against the Uighurs and predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in meetings with the Chinese government. The agency, along with other federal agencies, would conduct a study to document the systematic detention that would also detail detainment facility locations, estimates of the number of people detained, a timeline of the escalation in discrimination against Turkic Muslims, and interviews from former detainees (to the greatest extent possible).
The bill would require the executive branch to conduct advocacy at the United Nations, with Central Asian governments, and other appropriate foreign governments to condemn the persecution of Turkic Muslims.
The executive branch would be encouraged to consider levying sanctions against senior Chinese officials in the Xinjiang region under the Magnitsky Act.
Federal agencies would be restricted from using a foreign person or entity involved with the mass detention in Xinjiang for procuring goods or services under a federal contract. Exports to China or entities involved in the persecution in Xinjiang that could be used in mass surveillance — such as machine learning technology, artificial intelligence, or biometric technology — would be prohibited. Entities looking to engage in transactions with Xinjiang authorities would have to request approval from the Commerce Dept. and could only receive a waiver if China stops its persecution or a specific transaction would undermine U.S. national security.
The bill would also state that it’s U.S. policy to oppose intimidation of journalists and call on China to allow free movement of journalists and their families throughout Xinjiang. Radio Free Asia would be directed to overcome the jamming of its radio signal by China and expand its availability in the Uighur language. The U.S. Agency for Global Media would be directed to applaud reporters who in their independent journalistic discretion pursue reporting related to human rights in Xinjiang and recognize the importance of widely distributed news content regarding human rights issues in Xinjiang.
The bill’s full title is the Uighur Intervention and Global Humanitarian Unified Response (UIGHUR) Act of 2019.