Beijing’s Human Rights Abuses Against Uighurs Meets Stern U.S. Response
(New York, N.Y.) – The U.S. Department of Commerce blacklisted 11 Chinese firms this week accused of human rights violations. The companies were involved in using forced labor by Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups—a practice actively promoted by Beijing and which the Commerce Department described as “reprehensible.” The move was made in response to resurfaced drone footage showing blindfolded and shackled Uighurs being led onto trains in Xinjiang. Similarly, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are considering bills that will ensure goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) do not enter the U.S. market.
Separately, the United Kingdom threatened sanctions against China for “gross and egregious” human rights abuses toward its Uighur population.
The video, which first appeared in October 2019, brings China’s human rights violations against its Uighur population back into the spotlight, adding to the pressure from new reports that Beijing is allowing companies to use the forced labor of Uighurs to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) and is sterilizing Uighur women as part of a draconian campaign to curb birth rates in the Muslim population.
Since 2017, Muslim minorities in China’s XUAR have been assigned to “cultural immersion” programs to increase loyalty to the Chinese state in an effort to combat radicalization and terrorism among what China considers to be a vulnerable Muslim population. Living in conditions that are nothing more than detention centers, and Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are reportedly subjected to constant human rights abuses as they live under constant surveillance and are forced to work in labor camps. It is estimated that 1 to 2 million Uighurs have been detained in what China calls re-education camps.
China has faced international scrutiny in the past for its maltreatment of Uighurs and other minority groups. In July 2019, more than 22 countries at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council called on China to halt its mass detention of Uighurs. Following international condemnation of the XUAR internment camps, on July 30, 2019, Chinese officials claimed that they released the majority of the detainees but did not offer convincing evidence.
To read CEP’s China resource, please click here.