China warns the U.S. against passing legislation which would mandate a hardline stance on the Chinese crackdown of the country’s Uighur Muslim minority.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying issued that warning Wednesday saying, “We urge the US to immediately correct its mistake, to stop the above bill on Xinjiang from becoming law, to stop using Xinjiang as a way to interfere in China’s domestic affairs.”
The House passed the Uighur Act of 2019 on Tuesday in a 407 to 1 vote, although it still would need to pass through the upper chamber before it arrives on the president’s desk for a signature.
If signed into law, the bill would justify sanctions against a Chinese official and condemnation of China’s treatment of more than one million Muslims, which are currently held in “camps” in Xinjiang.
American lawmakers have called these holding centers concentration camps, while China has suggested they “re-education” centers aimed at combatting terrorism.
Meanwhile, tension between Washington and Beijing has mounted additionally in recent weeks after President Trump signed bipartisan legislation into law which supports the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
China announced retaliation over the law earlier this week, saying it will no longer allow U.S. military ships and aircraft to visit Hong Kong.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson weighed in on the move Monday saying, “We urge the U.S. to correct the mistakes and stop interfering in our internal affairs. China will take further steps if necessary to uphold Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity and China’s sovereignty.”
The official reportedly continued by saying it would sanction various American-based NGO’s while suggesting the United States has “some [degree of] responsibility for the chaos in Hong Kong.”
Some of those organizations include Human Rights Watch, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
President Trump signed the Human Rights and Democracy Act into law last week, mandating a special review annually to evaluate the special trading status Hong Kong currently has under American law.
The president weighed in on his decision to sign the legislation saying, “I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong. They are being enacted in the hope that Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all.”
The law also provides justification for sanctions targeting anyone who seeks to undermine the widespread pro-democracy demonstrations, and also prohibits the United States from exporting tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons, and other materials to Hong Kong.
Protests first erupted months ago in Hong Kong over an extradition bill, which has since been taken off the table but spurred widespread calls for democratic reform.