Thu, Dec 05, 2019 - Page 1 News List

China and US clash over Xinjiang, Hong Kong bills

NO HURRY:Beijing said that it, too, does not have a time limit on striking a trade deal with the US, after Trump said that he might wait until after the US presidential election


In this Dec. 3, 2018 photo, a guard tower and barbed wire fences are seen around a facility in the Kunshan Industrial Park in Artux in western China’s Xinjiang region.

Photo: AP

Already strained relations between China and the US were yesterday further muddied after the US Congress overwhelmingly approved a bill targeting Beijing’s mass crackdown on ethnic Muslim minorities, less than one week after US President Donald Trump signed separate human rights legislation on Hong Kong.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long regarded Hong Kong and Xinjiang as crucial areas for asserting territorial sovereignty, and has responded with fury to what it considers foreign meddling.

“Xinjiang is China’s Xinjiang,” said a statement from the Chinese State Ethnic Affairs Commission, echoing another government mantra: “Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong.”

The Uighur Human Rights Policy Act denounces the detention of an estimated 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and others in Xinjiang, home to the predominantly Muslim minority groups.

It would require the US Department of State to evaluate whether Chinese officials would meet the criteria for sanctions for their roles in enacting oppressive policies.

The bill “disregards the facts and mixes up black and white,” said the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) in one of a slew of strongly worded rebukes from government departments.

“It is regrettable that US Congress has not only turned a blind eye to Xinjiang’s efforts to combat terrorism and protect human rights in accordance with laws and regulations, but also to Xinjiang’s current economic development, social stability, national unity and religious harmony,” the NPC commission said.

Former detainees and their family members have said that they were arbitrarily held in heavily secured, prison-like camps where they were pressured to renounce their faith and express gratitude to the CCP.

A leak last month of classified Chinese government documents revealed a blueprint for rewiring the thoughts of ethnic minorities who had not committed any crimes.

Beijing has said that the measures are necessary to combat terrorism and eradicate religious extremism, calling the facilities “vocational training centers” for those who lack employable skills.

“The US bill smears our efforts in counterterrorism and deradicalization, which only reveals America’s double standards on counterterrorism and further exposes to the Chinese people its hypocrisy and malicious intentions,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) told a regular media briefing in Beijing.

Tensions over the US bills have cast doubt over the potential for a trade deal between the two countries, which have been embroiled in a 16-month tariff dispute.

Trump on Tuesday said that he has “no deadline” for striking an agreement and that he might wait until after the US presidential election in November next year, triggering a sell-off in global markets.

Asked about Trump’s comments, Hua yesterday said that Beijing too had no timeline for ending the protracted trade dispute.

“We will not set any time limit on when the deal will or will not be reached,” Hua said.

“This agreement and these negotiations must be based on equality and mutual respect,” she said.

“If we are faced with the pressure of unilateralism, protectionism, and trade bullying, we will have no choice and must take resolute and decisive measures to defend our legitimate and lawful interests,” Hua added.

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