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.
Authorities in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang have detained an award-winning documentary photographer who was on a trip there, his wife has said.
Lu Guang, 57, has been missing and presumed detained since Nov. 3, when he was in the regional capital, Urumqi, Lu's wife, Xu Xiaoli, said.
Xu said via her Twitter account late on Monday that Lu had been invited by a friend to Urumqi on Oct. 23, and had later traveled to Kashgar, in the south of the region, on Oct. 31.
But his family lost contact with Lu after he returned to Urumqi on the night of Nov.
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.
China will retaliate "in proportion" if the United States sanctions its top official in the restive region of Xinjiang over alleged human rights abuses, China's ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday, adding that Beijing's policies in the region are to "re-educate" terrorists.
Chinese Ambassador to Washington Cui Tiankai told Reuters in an interview that China's efforts to combat international terrorism are held to a double standard, comparing Chinese actions in Xinjiang to U.S.
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.