Marco Rubio, Jim McGovern, Ted Yoho: Expand Sanctions on China After Mass Internment of Uyghurs

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass, who lead the Congressional Executive Committee on China (CECC), led a bipartisan and bicameral group of 48 lawmakers in a letter urging U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to respond strongly and decisively to the Chinese government and Communist Party’s ongoing mass internment and forced labor of ethnic Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

Other signers of the letter include U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who leads Republicans on the U.S. House Asia and Pacific Subcommittee.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Secretaries Pompeo, Mnuchin, and Ross:

We write today regarding the ongoing mass internment and forced labor of ethnic Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Congress has urged the Administration to respond strongly and decisively, and in light of recent reports, we are renewing that call.  On November 16, 2019, The New York Times published leaked Chinese government documents that shed new light on the role of the Chinese Communist Party, including its General Secretary Xi Jinping, in the ongoing human rights abuses in the XUAR.  While we were pleased to see the Administration announce the imposition of sanctions against Chinese individuals and entities on October 7-8, 2019, these measures were a first step that do not go far enough in ensuring accountability for China’s government and Communist Party.

We urge you to publicly impose Global Magnitsky Act sanctions against Chen Quanguo, the XUAR Community Communist Party Secretary, as well as other senior party leaders who have had a role in setting and implementing China’s ethnic and religious policies, including those in the Central Committee and XUAR united front work departments, political-legal commissions, and state security commissions.  The continued inaction on Global Magnitsky Act sanctions in light of the voluminous evidence showing Chen, in particular, to be a key architect of the current system of internment camps is simply inexcusable.  The Treasury Department should move to approve and implement these sanctions immediately.

Since a bipartisan group of Members sent a letter on this issue in April 2019, journalists and researchers have revealed that senior officials in the PRC, from Xi Jinping down, are ordering and coordinating the mass internment and forced labor policies we are witnessing in the XUAR.  The leaked documents acquired by The New York Times include previously undisclosed speeches by General Secretary Xi and reveal the dehumanizing terms used to justify the crimes against Uyghurs and other religious groups.  These documents show that the Party views these groups as possessing a “virus” in their thought that must be eliminated, using, in Xi’s words, the “organs of dictatorship” and “showing absolutely no mercy.”  Moreover, the system of forced labor that accompanies mass internment in the XUAR has effectively turned the region into a massive labor camp that cruelly exploits ethnic minority labor as part of a program of political indoctrination.

We urge you to expand the scope of the sanctions and Bureau of Industry and Security “Entity List” designations already applied to Chinese government departments and companies responsible for this tragic situation.  Since each of you plays a role on the End-User Review Committee on Entity List Decisions, we ask that you expand the Entity List to ensure that U.S. companies are not contributing to, directly or indirectly, the gross human rights violations in the XUAR.

The list’s expansion should include all Chinese companies involved in the “pairing assistance” program in XUAR, which subsidizes the establishment of manufacturing facilities in Xinjiang, and any company otherwise benefiting from the system of forced labor in the XUAR.  The PRC government reportedly has begun to “employ” large numbers of Uyghurs, including many former detainees, in these enterprises, particularly labor-intensive textile and apparel factories, where they are strictly supervised.  Uyghurs who refuse to accept such employment may be threatened with detention.  Oppressive surveillance in the XUAR coupled with the government’s policies of forced labor prevent companies from conducting meaningful due diligence to ensure their supply chains are free from forced labor.

We ask that expansion of the Entity List supplement the efforts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to investigate and block U.S. imports of goods made with forced labor from the XUAR, pursuant to Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930.  In October, the CBP placed a “Withhold Release Order” (WRO) on garments produced by XUAR-based Hetian Taida Apparel Company, Ltd. based on the fact that those garments are being “produced with prison or forced labor.”  Members of Congress recently encouraged the CBP to issue additional WROs on Chinese companies using forced labor, particularly in the textile industry.  Because forced labor is part of a larger Chinese government policy of social control, it is time for the Administration to take aggressive action to enforce U.S. law and eliminate illegal imports of goods made with forced labor and assembled or manufactured in the XUAR.  A copy of the Congressional letter to Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan is included for your reference.

We also believe the United States should establish stronger disclosure requirements to alert American investors about the presence in U.S. capital markets of Hikvision, Dahua Technology, and other Chinese enterprises complicit in human rights abuses.  Such disclosure requirements should also include American and foreign companies listed on U.S. exchanges that source their products from or have a presence in the XUAR.  The failure to disclose their business in the XUAR poses material, asymmetric risks to corporate reputation and shareholder value—especially now that the U.S. government has shown it is prepared to use the Entity List to sanction companies contributing to human rights abuses.

Chinese authorities have detained dozens of family members of U.S. government employees and U.S. citizens and permanent residents in a bid to thwart any effort to expose the details of human rights abuses occurring in the XUAR.  In particular, we encourage you to actively seek the release of the family members—such as Gulshan Abbas and Kaisar Keyum—of Radio Free Asia (RFA) Uyghur language service journalists and prominent Uyghur rights activists Rushan Abbas and Rebiya Kadeer.  Efforts to intimidate U.S. residents through detention of their family members is unacceptable and requires a strong response from the Administration.

The United States must lead the free world in addressing what may be crimes against humanity being committed in the XUAR.  If “never again” is to mean anything in the 21st century, then we must respond to one of the greatest ongoing tragedies of our time.  If the U.S. and American companies refuse or fail to act, it will be a stain on our history.

We look forward to working with you on these timely and important issues.

 

 

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