Source: Daily Sabah
BY SABRIA CHOWDHURY BALLAND
In June, President Donald Trump signed legislation calling for sanctions against those responsible for the repression and oppression of Uighur Muslims in the far western regions of Xinjiang, China. The bill passed the U.S. Congress almost unanimously and is meant to send a very strong message to China on human rights.
The Uighur law for the first time calls for sanctions on a member of China’s powerful Politburo, Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party’s secretary in Xinjiang, stating that he is responsible for “gross human rights violations.” It also calls for U.S. companies in Xinjiang to take necessary measures to ensure that they do not use parts made with forced labor.
According to the United Nations, more than 1 million Uighur Muslims have been placed in detention camps. While China claims these are “training centers” necessary to tackle extremism, it denies any mistreatment and responded to the signing of the U.S. sanctions with anger, claiming that it “vilified” the human rights situation in Xinjiang and that the U.S. is conducting a malicious act against China.
This law serves to cement an already volatile and tense relationship between the two countries, rooted in Trump’s trade war, China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. support for Taiwan, which China claims as its territory.
There is absolutely no doubt that this was the right thing to do. Human rights abuses of any sort should not be tolerated. However, the motive behind Trump’s action may not be based on very humanitarian sensibilities or empathy from his part.
Around the same time of the signing of the law, John Bolton, Trump’s former national security advisor, released his book, alleging, among many other things, that the president sought the help of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s help to win his reelection campaign during a closed-door meeting in 2019. The allegation stipulates that during this meeting, Trump told Xi to go ahead with building the camps for the Uighurs. That is quite a stark contradiction from the humanitarian act we are witnessing from Trump now. The Trump that we know has absolutely no love lost for Muslims, a fact he has demonstrated time and time again with his numerous attempts at Muslim bans.