TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — U.S. authorities revealed today (Dec. 5) that the state estimates over 2 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region since the recent crackdown began in April 2017.
The Asia-Pacific subcommittee of the U.S. Senate commenced a meeting today, in which human rights and the rule of law in China took precedence. Particular focus was given to the Xinjiang issue, upon which both Republican and Democrat representatives expressed concern, according to CNA.
Chairman of the subcommittee Cory Gardner and Democrat opposition Ed Markey both said Beijing needs to do more to curb human rights abuses.
Gardner questioned whether Washington had purposely neglected pressuring China over its human rights record during recent trade talks.
China has time and again asserted that the incarceration of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region is for educational and vocational training purposes. Reports from former detainees differ vastly, however, with many stating they were subject to cruel punishments and torture.
It was previously reported over a million people had been detained, but Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Scott Busby said intelligence reports now suggest more than 2 million have been subject to false imprisonment.
Busby also pointed out that similar re-education camps were now being established in Ningxia, an autonomous region in China’s central Henan province.
Ningxia’s Hui people were previously left unbothered by authorities due to them being more integrated into and less ethnically distinct from mainstream Han Chinese society. Last month, however, Xinjiang and Ningxia local authorities signed an anti-terrorism agreement and began communicating plans to replicate Xinjiang-style concentration camps in the central-China region.
Acting Deputy Assistant of the U.S. Senate Asia-Pacific subcommittee, Laura Stone, commented that the Trump administration is looking to build a constructive and result-oriented relationship with China, but believes encouraging Beijing to show more respect for human rights and basic freedoms is crucial to realizing a sustainable relationship.
Democrat opposition Markey queried whether Trump brought up human rights concerns during his recent meeting with Xi Jinping.
Stone remarked that she was not present for the meeting but in all side discussions, the U.S. continued to reaffirm its stance on human rights matters.
Junior Republican Senator Marco Rubio said that other countries will only speak up if the U.S. leads a global condemnation of Chinese human rights abuses. However, he added, it would be a huge problem if Canada and other leading nations came out boldly in opposition of China’s actions in Xinjiang but the U.S. remained tight-lipped.