China summons U.S. embassy official over Uighur bill

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China summoned a United States (U.S.) diplomat in Beijing on Wednesday to protest a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives seeking to hold China accountable over alleged violations of human rights against Muslim minorities.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Qin Gang summoned William Klein, the charge d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in China, to lodge “strong protests” against the bill, Chinese state media reported.
A U.S. Embassy spokesperson said U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad was out of the country at the time.
Qin told Klein the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019 represented interference in China’s internal affairs and urged the U.S. to prevent the bill from becoming law.
“Any attempt to stir up ethnic relations in China, undermine Xinjiang’s prosperity and stability, and curb China’s development and progress is doomed to fail,” Qin said, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
China will retaliate “according to the development of the situation,” he added.
Earlier on Wednesday, the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) defended China’s campaign against ethnic minorities, including Uighurs, in the western Xinjiang region.
Detention centres that have been described by survivors and in leaked internal documents as de-facto internment camps are “vocational education and training schools,” the CPPCC said.
The centres are “designed to help people who have been ‘brainwashed’ by extreme thoughts of violence to get rid of the shackles of extreme thoughts, strengthen their awareness of the law and master production and living skills,” the body said.
It added that the U.S. bill “encourages terrorism” and interferes with China’s internal affairs.
The bill already passed in the Senate in September with support from both major parties, sailing through unanimously.
After a process of reconciling the two bills between the chambers, the legislation will move to President Donald Trump’s desk. Only one lawmaker voted against the proposal, meaning Congress can override a veto.
The law is the latest anti-China legislation to pass in the U.S. Congress, following recent bills supporting protesters in Hong Kong, which Trump signed after a veto-proof majority of lawmakers approved the measures.
Beijing hit back by sanctioning U.S. non-profits.
The law on the Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim minority in China’s Xinjiang region, would require that the State Department determine if certain Chinese officials should be subjected to sanctions for human rights violations.
Additionally, the federal government would have to identify which companies are involved in building the camps, and offer support to journalists covering the unfolding events.
Human rights groups and the U.S. government accused China of engaging in mass internment and surveillance of the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
More than one million people have allegedly been detained for so-called re-education.

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