Bipartisan Momentum Grows in Congress To Act on Uyghur Genocide

A Chinese 'reeducation' camp in Xinjiang (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)
April 14, 2021

A bipartisan House resolution introduced Wednesday by foreign affairs leadership condemns China for its ongoing genocide of Uyghur Muslims and calls for the United Nations to take action to stop China's "crimes against humanity."

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.) and ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) issued a joint resolution denouncing China's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity being committed against Uyghurs." The resolution states the United Nations should investigate these atrocities and invoke sanctions to hold Beijing accountable.

"The PRC Government, under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party, has detained and sought to indoctrinate more than one million Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups," the resolution says. "[The U.S. and U.N. should] take all possible actions to bring this genocide and these crimes against humanity to an end and hold the perpetrators of these atrocities accountable under international law."

The resolution highlights a growing bipartisan consensus to condemn China for its treatment of Uyghurs, who have been subjected to forced sterilization, forced labor, and various other forms of abuse.

The Biden administration has yet to act against China’s human rights violations. Activists and former diplomatic officials urged the Biden administration in March to respond to similar human rights atrocities in Tibet. The State Department said it would appoint an envoy to Tibet but hasn't specified a timeline. The White House also ruled out a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics on human rights grounds, even as congressional Republicans and activists demanded one.

McCaul said Americans have a "moral obligation" to stand up for the rights of oppressed Uyghurs.

"The Chinese Communist Party has been waging genocide for years against their own citizens and have even called the Uyghurs ‘malignant tumors,’" McCaul said. "We have a moral obligation to confront genocide anywhere in the world, and I am grateful the chairman has joined me in this vital effort."

The resolution follows a similar bipartisan effort in the Senate in January, when Sens. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) reintroduced the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which would set an effective import ban on goods from Xinjiang, where China imprisons over a million Uyghurs.