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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Co-Chairs Urge Strong Measures to Counter Rights Abuses in Xinjiang, China

Apr 3, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - Today Reps. James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, with U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter urging the Trump Administration to swiftly impose Global Magnitsky Act sanctions against Chen Quanguo, Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary and Politburo Member Secretary, and other high-ranking Chinese officials complicit in gross human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, China. 

The letter signed by 24 Senators and 19 Representatives  also urges the Commerce Department to strengthen export controls to ensure that United States companies are not assisting the Chinese Government in creating the vast civilian surveillance or big-data predictive policing systems used in Xinjiang, and to strengthen disclosure requirements to alert American investors about material, asymmetric risks posed by the presence in the U.S. capital markets of Hikvision, Dahua Technology, and other Chinese enterprises that may pose national security dangers or are complicit in human rights abuses

The signed letter is available here and the full text is reprinted below. 

Dear Secretaries Pompeo, Mnuchin and Ross:

We write today regarding the ongoing mass internment and surveillance of ethnic Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).  Congress has consistently urged the Administration to respond strongly and decisively, including by swiftly imposing sanctions against those Chinese government and Communist Party officials and entities that are complicit in or directing the ongoing human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Despite the Chinese government’s obfuscations and its slanderous attacks on critics of its abusive policies, there is mounting global concern regarding China’s treatment of its minority populations—human rights abuses that may constitute crimes against humanity.  We are disappointed with the Administration’s failure so far to impose any sanctions related to the ongoing systemic and egregious human rights abuses in Xinjiang. While the strong rhetoric condemning the Chinese government’s actions in the XUAR from Vice President Pence and others is certainly welcomed, words alone are not enough.

Therefore, we urge you to impose Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act sanctions against Chen Quanguo, XUAR Communist Party Secretary and Politburo Member, and other XUAR officials and entities complicit in gross violations of human rights. Moreover, legislation last year urged the Commerce Department to expand its “Entity List” to include businesses and other entities that have provided technology, training, or equipment to XUAR officials in mass detentions and surveillance, including Chinese companies like Hikvision and Dahua Technology. Since you each play a role on the End-User Review Committee on Entity List Decisions, we ask that you work to expand the Entity List to ensure that U.S. companies are not assisting, directly or indirectly, in creating the vast civilian surveillance or big-data predictive policing systems being used in the XUAR. In addition, we believe the United States should establish strengthened disclosure requirements to alert American investors about the presence of Hikvision, Dahua Technology, and other Chinese enterprises that pose national security dangers or are complicit in human rights abuses, in the U.S. capital markets.  Americans would likely be very troubled, if not outraged, to learn that their retirement and other investment dollars are funding Chinese companies with links to the Chinese government’s security apparatus and malevolent behavior—links that represent material, asymmetric risks to corporate reputation and share value.

Given the national security interests involved with the Chinese government’s creation of high-tech policing and surveillance systems in the XUAR, we would ask that you provide our offices with responses to the following questions:

  • In her testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on December 4, 2018, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Laura Stone stated: “The State Department is leading interagency efforts within the Administration to review and develop a U.S. whole-of-government strategy to address the campaign of repression in Xinjiang.”  What is the status of this effort and when will it be delivered or briefed to Congress?
  • Have any senior U.S. officials made attempts to visit Xinjiang and investigate the “political re-education” camps and seek information about the detentions of U.S. legal residents and the relatives of American citizens and legal permanent residents who have been detained or disappeared? Please provide a detailed list of all visits requested, denied, or approved by the Chinese government.
  • What diplomatic efforts are being undertaken to account for and seek information on detained U.S. legal residents and the family members and associates of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, including the families of Radio Free Asia employees?
  • Have American companies sold technology to Chinese companies operating in the XUAR or worked with them to help develop the “Sharp Eyes” or “Integrated Joint Operations Platform” being used there for surveillance and big-data predictive policing?
  • What specific steps are being taken by the U.S. Government to prevent the Chinese government from using American-made goods and services to perpetrate grave human rights abuses in the XUAR?
  • What diplomatic engagement has the State Department undertaken with like-minded partners, including nations in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, on this issue?
  • What types of actions, if any, are planned at the United Nations to raise the profile of this crisis? Will the Administration be leading requests for a dialogue or briefings at the U.N. Security Council on the situation in the XUAR?

We look forward to working with you on these timely and important issues.


​Members of United States Congress

116th Congress