The U.S. House voted Wednesday to authorize sanctions against Chinese officials for human rights abuses against Muslim minorities, as Congress and the White House ratchet up pressure on the government in Beijing amid rising tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.
The 413-1 vote comes on the same day the Trump administration said that Hong Kong is no longer politically autonomous from China, a move that could have far-reaching consequences on the former British colony’s special trading status with the U.S.
The vote was the first conducted under a new House rule allowing members to cast proxy votes for other lawmakers who stayed home amid the coronavirus pandemic. The rule was passed by Democrats, who hold the majority, and opposed by Republicans.
The legislation, which already passed the Senate, now goes to President Donald Trump, who hasn’t said whether he would sign it into law.
“We’re taking a look at it very strongly,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
The measure received broad bipartisan support in Congress amid rising criticism of China over trade, its handling of the initial coronavirus outbreak and its attempts to put down anti-government protests in Hong Kong. China has threatened retaliation over efforts in the U.S. to exert pressure over human rights issues, and the House vote comes as relations between the world’s two biggest economies are at a low point.
The single vote in opposition was cast by Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie.
The legislation, S. 3744, condemns the internment of more than 1 million Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region of China. It also calls for closing the camps where they are being held and would require Trump to impose sanctions on and revoke the visas of any officials found to be responsible for the oppression of the Uighurs.
“We are sending a message to the persecuted that they are not forgotten,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor before the vote. “We’re saying to the president of China, ‘You may tell these people that they are forgotten, but they aren’t.’”
In a separate action, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo certified that Hong Kong is no longer politically autonomous from China, an action taken under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act that Trump signed last year.
The administration is considering possible penalties against Chinese officials, businesses and financial institutions if the authorities crack down on dissent in Hong Kong. Police officers arrested 300 people in Hong Kong overnight as protesters took to the streets to speak out against the law.
The last few weeks have seen a flurry of activity in Congress related to China. Last week, the Senate passed by unanimous consent a bill introduced by John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, and Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, that would delist from U.S. stock exchanges Chinese companies that refuse to comply with U.S. accounting disclosure regulations.
Van Hollen and Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, have introduced legislation that would levy additional sanctions on Chinese officials found to be interfering in Hong Kong affairs. Their legislation includes secondary sanctions on banks doing business with those officials. That legislation focuses on the entire Chinese financial sector, according to the senators.
Van Hollen said the legislation “is designed to hit the Chinese Communist Party and the individuals involved in these decisions where it hurts.”
The issues surrounding the Uighurs and the autonomy of Hong Kong are just a few of the many raised by lawmakers in the weeks following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
“We must acknowledge that the CCP is the greatest economic and national security threat of this generation,” said Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2TwO8Gm
QUICKTAKE ON SOCIAL:
Follow QuickTake on Twitter: twitter.com/quicktake
Like QuickTake on Facebook: facebook.com/quicktake
Follow QuickTake on Instagram: instagram.com/quicktake
Subscribe to our newsletter: https://bit.ly/2FJ0oQZ
Email us at email@example.com
QuickTake by Bloomberg is a global news network delivering up-to-the-minute analysis on the biggest news, trends and ideas for a new generation of leaders.
In This Story: Beijing
Beijing, China’s sprawling capital, has history stretching back 3 millennia. Yet it’s known as much for modern architecture as its ancient sites such as the grand Forbidden City complex, the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
2 Recent Items: Beijing
In This Story: China
7 Recent Items: China
In This Story: Donald Trump
Donald John Trump is the 45th and current president of the United States. Before entering politics, he was a businessman and television personality. Trump was born and raised in Queens, a borough of New York City, and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School.
5 Recent Items: Donald Trump
In This Story: Hong Kong
Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKSAR), is a metropolitan area and special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China on the eastern Pearl River Delta of the South China Sea. With over 7.5 million residents of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world.
Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the Qing Empire ceded Hong Kong Island at the end of the First Opium War in 1842. The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898. The whole territory was transferred to China in 1997. As a special administrative region, Hong Kong maintains separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China under the principle of “one country, two systems”.
3 Recent Items: Hong Kong
In This Story: Louisiana
Louisiana is a southeastern U.S. state on the Gulf of Mexico. Its history as a melting pot of French, African, American and French-Canadian cultures is reflected in its Creole and Cajun cultures. The largest city, New Orleans, is known for its colonial-era French Quarter, raucous Mardi Gras festival, jazz music, Renaissance-style St. Louis Cathedral and wartime exhibits at the huge National WWII Museum.
4 Recent Items: Louisiana
In This Story: Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Patricia Pelosi is an American politician serving as a congresswoman from California and the speaker of the United States House of Representatives. A member of the Democratic Party, Pelosi is the only woman in U.S. history to serve as Speaker and the highest-ranking female elected official in United States history. She is also the dean of California’s congressional delegation. As House speaker, Pelosi is second in the presidential line of succession, after the vice president.
2 Recent Items: Nancy Pelosi
In This Story: Uighur
The Uyghurs, alternately Uygurs, Uighurs or Uigurs, are a Turkic-speaking minority ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia. The Uyghurs are recognized as native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. (Source Wikipedia).
News related to Uighur people from a variety of outlets, is collated below.