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US pushes China over Uyghur Muslim rights with new trade bill

February 19, 2021 at 3:01 pm

Uyghur Turks living in Istanbul, who cannot contact their relatives in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, gather to protest against China outside the Chinese Consulate-General in Sariyer district of Istanbul, Turkey on 15 February 2021. [Ahmet Bolat – Anadolu Agency]

The US House of Representatives reintroduced a bipartisan trade bill on Thursday that will ban imports from China’s Xinjiang region as long as they have not been certified to be produced without forced labour, Reuters has reported.

The bill will authorise the US president to apply sanctions against anyone responsible for labour trafficking of minority Uyghurs or other Muslims in Xinjiang. The region is a leading producer of cotton and cotton products.

“We have watched in horror as the Chinese government first created, and then expanded a system of extrajudicial mass internment camps targeting Uyghurs and Muslim minorities,” said Democrat Representative Jim McGovern when reintroducing the bill.

Meanwhile, according to a report published by the Heritage Foundation, between 1.8 million and 3 million Uyghurs have been collectivised and interned in political re-education camps in China since 2018.

The Uyghurs are a mostly Muslim Turkic minority living in Xinjiang in north-western China. There are around 11 million of them in the region.

Turkey: Uyghurs stage protest outside Chinese embassy