Dear Mr. James,
Thank you for contacting me regarding the treatment of the Uyghur people in China. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I share your concerns.
I believe that all people—no matter where they live—must be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of race, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, or gender. It is important that the United States and international community defend the right of all people to speak freely, uphold the principle of self-determination, and strongly support the right of a people to maintain their own identity. No one should fear arrest or persecution for exercising these basic human rights regardless of where they live.
As you are aware, the Uyghur people—a predominantly Muslim Turkic ethnic group—have faced significant surveillance, discrimination, and persecution by Chinese authorities. Uyghurs have been subject to wide-scale repression, including restrictions on freedoms of expression, religion, and movement, and have been denied the right to a fair trial. Additionally, the Xinjiang territory has remained under high-tech surveillance and evidence has shown that “political reeducation” camps have been established to indoctrinate and detain certain people in this community.
In response to these concerns, Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ) introduced the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019 (H.R. 649). This legislation condemns human rights violations against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang and calls for the end of the harassment, detention, and torture of ethnic Turkic Muslims in the region. As a co-sponsor of this legislation, I was pleased to vote in favor of the Senate's version of this legislation (S.178) when it passed the House of Representatives on December 3, 2019.
The House also recently considered the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (H.R.6210), which would institute a number of measures aimed at addressing the forced labor camps that have targeted the Uyghur community. Specifically, the bill would establish sanctions against those who are found responsible for human rights violations in Xinjiang. The bill would also require corporations to prove that any imported products into the United States from Xinjiang are not made with forced labor. Finally, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act requires an assessment of the strategy of the United States, including efforts to enhance awareness of forced labor camps in Xinjiang and a list of Chinese entities and affiliates that are known to use the forced labor of the Uyghur people. It remains critical that the United States continues to stand up against human rights abuses around the world. With that in mind, I joined the vast majority of my colleagues in voting to pass this bill in the House.
Please know that I will continue to monitor this developing situation closely, as well as push for the global community to recognize the basic freedoms of people—regardless of religion, race, or anything else. I encourage you to continue to share your views with me on this topic or any other issue. Thank you for reaching out. It is an honor to serve as your representative.
Member of Congress