House to Vote on Uighur Rights Bill in Latest Shot at China

(Bloomberg) -- The House plans to vote next week on legislation that would impose sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights abuses against Muslim minorities, an action sure to anger Beijing as anti-China sentiment rises in Congress.

The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate on May 14, indicating broad bipartisan support for the measure, which would condemn the internment of more than 1 million Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region of China.

It also calls for closing the camps where they are being held and would require President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on and revoke the visas of any officials found to be responsible for the oppression of the Uighurs.

The vote is being scheduled amid rising bipartisan anger directed at China, which has ratcheted up in the wake of the Beijing government’s unveiling of new national security laws in Hong Kong. U.S. officials warned that China’s action could jeopardize the Hong Kong’s special trade status and spark investor flight. Trump said that his government would react “strongly” to the anti-sedition measures.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo indicated Friday that the U.S. would reconsider exemptions protecting Hong Kong exports from tariffs on Chinese goods if the mainland enacts “its disastrous proposal” to levy new restrictions on the island.

The last few weeks have seen a flurry of activity in Congress related to China. This week, the Senate passed by unanimous consent a bill introduced by John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, and Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, that would delist from U.S. stock exchanges Chinese companies that refuse to comply with U.S. accounting disclosure regulations.

The bill could lead to Chinese companies such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Baidu Inc. being barred from listing on U.S. stock exchanges.

On Thursday, just as the Senate was preparing to leave for the Memorial Day holiday, Van Hollen and another Republican colleague, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, introduced legislation targeted at the Hong Kong issue. It would impose sanctions on Chinese officials found to be interfering in the city’s independence and penalize banks that do business with them.

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