US passes bill to check China on Uighurs

The US is seeking sanctions on Chen Quanguo, who is China's secretary for the Xinjiang Uighurs.
The US is seeking sanctions on Chen Quanguo, who is China's secretary for the Xinjiang Uighurs.

The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed bipartisan legislation seeking to hold China accountable over alleged violations of human rights against Muslim minorities, including the Uighurs.

The bill already passed in the Senate in September with support from both major parties, sailing through unanimously.

After a process of reconciling the two bills between the chambers, the legislation will move to President Donald Trump's desk, and, if passed, is likely to anger Beijing.

Only one lawmaker voted against the proposal, meaning Congress can override a veto.

The law is the latest anti-China legislation to pass in the US Congress, following recent bills supporting protesters in Hong Kong, which Trump signed after a veto-proof majority of lawmakers approved the measures.

China said on Wednesday it resolutely opposes the latest bill.

The foreign ministry, in a statement attributed to spokeswoman Hua Chunying, said Xinjiang is China's internal affair and urged the US to correct its mistakes and stop the bill from becoming law.

China will respond further depending on the development of the situation, the statement said.

The White House has yet to say whether Trump will sign or veto the legislation.

The law on the Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim minority in China's western Xinjiang region, would require that the State Department determine if certain Chinese officials should be subjected to sanctions for human rights violations.

Additionally, the federal government would have to identify which companies are involved in building internment camps, and offer support to journalists covering the unfolding events.

Human rights groups and the US government accused China of engaging in mass internment and surveillance of the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

More than one million people have allegedly been detained for so-called re-education.

China says it is fighting extremism, separatism and terrorism.

Australian Associated Press