A U.S. congressman is calling on President Donald Trump to raise the issue of China's mass internment of Muslim ethnic minorities when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week.
Republican Congressman Christopher Smith co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China with Republican Senator Marco Rubio. The two lawmakers have proposed a bill in their respective chambers condemning the gross violations of human rights against the Uighurs in the remote western Xinjiang region. Beijing has faced growing international criticism over the incarceration of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities, which it claims is necessary to combat religious extremism.
But former detainees have described the facilities as political indoctrination camps where they were forced to condemn Islam and declare loyalty to the ruling Communist Party.
In an interview with VOA's Mandarin Service Wednesday, Congressman Smith said their legislation would call on President Trump to use the Global Magnitsky Act and sanction "individual perpetrators" for their actions against the Uighurs. "We are not talking about American values here, we are talking about universally recognized human rights to which the Chinese government has pledged itself to," Smith said.
Smith accused China of committing genocide against the Uihgurs, calling their actions "without precedent in modern times." He also scoffed at a threat that Beijing would retaliate if the U.S. imposed sanctions made this week by Cui Tiankai, China's ambassador to the U.S.
"It's about time we stood up for the Chinese people," he said, "because that's where our hearts, that's where our solidarity has to be with, not with a dictatorship that ruins lives."
President Trump and President Xi will attend the G20 summit that begins Friday in Buenos Aires, Argentina.