U.S. Debates Sanctions Against China Over Muslim Detention Camps
by Aysha Qamar
China is facing criticism as it has been accused of allegedly detaining a Turkic ethnic minority, Uighur, in its Xinjiang region under what UN experts have called the “pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism”.
This Muslim identifying ethnic minority has been repressed in various ways including having religious customs banned and being forced to change ethnic Uighur names.
Beijing continues to deny allegations of mass detentions and discrimination claiming that any security measures or activity in Xinjiang is to prevent deadly attacks from extremist religious groups.
The news of these Muslims being locked up in concentration camps has caused the United States and Donald Trump administration to consider taking action.
The Trump administration is considering sanctions against Chinese officials and companies to punish the dentition of hundreds of thousands Muslims and ethnic minorities.
This sanction on the basis of human rights would not only be one of the first times the Trump administration has taken such action against China but could prove to be a very strong economic penalty for the Chinese government.
United States officials are also seeking to limit American sales of surveillance technology that Chinese security agencies and companies are currently using to monitor Muslim communities and Uighur citizens throughout northwest China.
Discussions on getting involved with this particular issue has been in talks for months now. However, the President had previously resisted punishing or agreeing to the accusations against China.
According to human rights activists, the mass detention centers are the worst actions against human rights to occur in China in decades.
Since taking power in 2012, President Xi Jinping has directed China on a hard authoritarian course, including the persecution and repression of a variety of ethnic groups.
Chinese Muslims in the camps are forced to attend daily classes that not only denounce aspect of Islam but encourage a pledge of loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party.
Some released detainees have described aspects of torture by security officers.
Chinese officials are calling these detention campus transformative education camps to counter extremism and terrorism, but fail to acknowledge the amount of Muslims detained.
In a statement to The New York Times, the State Department said officials “are deeply troubled by the Chinese government’s worsening crackdown” on Muslims.
“Credible reports indicate that individuals sent by Chinese authorities to detention centers since April 2017 number at least in the hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions,” the statement said.