WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa joined a group of bipartisan colleagues in introducing the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act in response to the gross violations of human rights in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, including the mass internment of over one million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities, as well as China’s intimidation and threats against U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents (LPRs) on American soil.
Grassley joined Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Angus King of Maine, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, John Cornyn of Texas, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Steve Daines of Montana, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
“China must be held accountable for its increasing persecution of religious minorities,” Grassley said. “No matter where they live, everyone should be able to freely express their religious beliefs free from government intimidation and coercion. The United States can and must apply significant pressure to Chinese leaders by linking the need for religious freedom to the economic and political aspects of our bilateral relationship that are important to China.”
A copy of the legislation can be found here. Key elements of the legislation include:
Their legislation urges high-level U.S. engagement on this issue, the establishment of a new “double-hatted” position at the State Department (a Special Coordinator for Xinjiang) while the crisis persists, the application of Global Magnitsky and related sanctions, the full implementation of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, a review of Commerce Department export controls and end user restrictions and the establishment of a voluntary database whereby U.S. citizens and LPRs can provide information regarding missing/detained family members with a view toward pressing for accountability.
Grassley has been a vocal advocate for religious freedom and holding China accountable for unfair trade practices. In October, Grassley published an op-ed calling on the Chinese government to end its persecution of religious minorities. Grassley also sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing his concerns about the ongoing religious persecution of religious minorities in China and asked what steps are being taken by the State Department to target Chinese government officials engaged in the persecution.