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Uygur bill damages worst-in-decades bilateral ties, triggers countermeasures on anti-China politicians: experts
May 19,2020   By:Global Times
COVID-19-inflicted US mocked for Uygur bill, 'cares' more for Xinjiang than American lives

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Tourists enjoy the scenery at Kanas scenic spot in Altay, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Sept. 25, 2019. Photo: Xinhua
 
May 19,2020 -- Chinese and overseas experts and residents of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region firmly opposed the US Senate passage of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, which accuses China of detaining Muslims and threatens to impose sanctions. They said that instead of clearing its own mess of failing to control the COVID-19 in the US, US politicians are eager to push anti-China acts. The US is pushing the Uygur bill at a worst moment when the China-US ties are at low ebb and leave little room for mistakes. And it may cause a more destructive result to bilateral ties.
 
The Senate on Thursday afternoon approved the Uygur human rights bill to sanction Chinese government officials responsible for "forced labor camps" in Xinjiang and "recommends a tougher response to the human rights abuses," CNN reported on Thursday. 
 
This is the US' latest shot at China as US President Donald Trump, officials and politicians have accused China for the COVID-19 pandemic and are busy seeking opportunities to put pressure on China in many fields.
 
The bill, which is full of groundless accusations and lies, only aims to smear China and scramble for the right to speak on human rights and use this as an excuse to slander China, Qian Jinyu, executive dean of the Human Rights Institution of Northwest University of Political Science and Law in Shaanxi Province, told the Global Times.
 
US politicians choosing to speed up passage of the bill at this time also shows they don't care about people in Xinjiang - their purpose has always been and will always be to serve US policies against China, Qian said.

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A child has a good time with an ice cream vendor at the International Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, July 17, 2019. Photo: Xinhua
 
Residents in Xinjiang reached by the Global Times said "when so many people in the US died from the coronavirus, US politicians continue to divert attention to hype Xinjiang issues. It seems Xinjiang people's lives are more valuable than Americans!"
 
They said that instead of caring for nonsense from the "US clowns," all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are busy working on poverty alleviation work and making efforts for a better life. 
 
"See how we controlled the COVID-19? Isn't it enough to make our point by comparing the death toll of COVID-19 in Xinjiang and in the US?" a resident surnamed Li, told the Global Times.
 
Muhammad Zamir Assadi, a journalist from Independent News Pakistan, told the Global Times on Friday that "the international community knows the enemy of mankind is the virus. But unfortunately, the US is still trying to destabilize this unity by using the noble excuse of saving humanity." 
 
The US Senate should focus on the shortage of medical equipment, which is costing hundreds of lives in the US on a daily basis. It is time for the US to decide whether they wish to save American people's lives or make baseless accusations against China, he said. 
 
Pressuring China
 
China will hold its most important political events - the plenary session of the National People's Congress and the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference - starting May 21, and experts said the Senate bill is also aimed at disturbing China.   
 
Zhu Ying, deputy director of the Human Rights Institute at Southwest University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times that to help the Trump administration's recent China-blame farce, the Republicans would do everything to push for more anti-China bills. This includes the Tibet bill, Taipei act and the China sanction bill over COVID-19.
 
Predrag Markovic, director of the Institute for Contemporary History in Serbia and vice president of the Socialist Party of Serbia, told the Global Times on Friday the most recent Uygur bill is only part of a broader propaganda offensive against China.  
 
During the 1990s, propaganda "bombs" had been used against Serbia. Then came real bombs and destruction. Fortunately, the scenario will not repeat today. "For benevolent China, such accusations are annoying, just like mosquito bites for a mighty tiger," Markovic said.
 
Markovic paid a visit to Xinjiang in September 2019 during which he visited a vocational education and training center, religious institutes and local markets in Kashi. He told the Global Times that he has seen efforts to turn Xinjiang into a modern and prosperous society. 
 
"I wonder if the US has ever offered such a chance for a new life to Muslim extremists around the world. Americans have only destroyed many Muslim societies," he said.
 
Zhu said that the House and Senate have reached consensus in speeding up the passage of the bill, as long as they can collect enough signatures from senators. It is highly possible that Trump would sign the bill since he is also desperate to divert public attention from his failure in dealing with the COVID-19.
 
Senator Marco Rubio, who sponsored the Uygur bill, tweeted on Thursday that the bill now "heads to the House which I hope can pass it as soon as tomorrow" so Trump can sign it into law.
 
The US Senate first passed the bill in September 2019, but the House amended it to restrict the export of devices that could be used to spy on or restrict the communications or movement of members of the group and other Chinese citizens, Bloomberg reported. 
 
Compared to the September version, the December version deleted many testimonies, which had been debunked by Chinese authorities. In the version passed on Thursday, the Senate stripped the export restriction from the December version and the House must clear it before it goes to Trump for his signature or veto. 
 
Zhu told the Global Times the Senate took the export restriction away since it would seriously affect the industrial chain and interests of the US and its allies, including some Muslim countries, Australia and Canada. Experts from the US Department of Commerce also opposed this part during the hearings. 
 
Wang Jiang, an expert on law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the export restriction mainly targets electronic products for security and protection, including drones and cameras. The US attempted to limit the export of products and technologies used in counter-terrorism to China. But China has developed domestic technologies in these fields. The export restriction is meaningless. 
 
Wang noted that the US relies more on China's products on security and protection. For example, the US 2019 National Defense Authorization Act required Federal agencies not to use any telecommunication facilities or services from China, but until the act was enacted, there were still many products made in China being used. Experts in the US also said that it is impossible to replace or remove all of them. 
 
The export restriction was also stripped because it would lead to a shortage of security and protection facilities in the US, Wang said. 
 
Erkin Oncan, a Turkish journalist, told the Global Times that any accusation made for political reasons will have to be withdrawn or changed when it collides with the facts. It is also necessary to study every US move on this issue as a setting for the next attack.

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Tourists dance with a local man at a homestay in Kanas scenic spot in Altay, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Sept. 23, 2019. Photo: Xinhua
 
Destroying global counter-terrorism work
 
Chinese authorities and the Xinjiang regional government have made preparations for US' interference, including completing the National Security Law and Anti-Terrorism Law and other related nation-level and region-level laws, offering protection to companies and individuals in Xinjiang that may be affected by the bill, experts said. 
 
Chinese authorities could also take countermeasures to punish US politicians who had been actively pushing anti-China bills in accordance with the National Security Law and Anti-Terrorism Law, including restricting businesses related to them in China, experts said. 
 
Zhu said that the Uygur bill, once enacted, will be the US' first law that interferes in China's policies in Xinjiang and severely infringes upon China's domestic affairs. The US would use it and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, as well as acts on human rights and religion freedoms, to add fuel to trade frictions with China. They may also affect the international cooperation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
 
China-US ties are fragile, and the passing of the Uygur bill at this time is like adding fuel to the fire. The US has criticized China for being "nationalist" and "not hot-headed." But it is the US who needs to reflect for causing a major setback in bilateral ties, Wang said. 
 
"What I worry the most is that it will destroy previous achievements and cooperation on counter-terrorism and security affairs between the two countries after the 9/11 tragedy," Wang said. 
 
China's counter-terrorism work in Xinjiang has contributed to the global work and what the US has done strikes a blow to global counter-terrorism cooperation, Wang noted. 
 
Zhu said the bill would also send a wrong signal to Xinjiang separatists in the US and severely violate the human rights of overseas Uygurs, since they may be forced by the US to offer information.
 
The World Uyghur Congress, a US-backed network which seeks the fall of the Chinese government, hailed the passage of the bill and claimed "this is one more victory for the Uyghur community."
 
By Liu Xin, Xie Wenting, Fan Lingzhi 
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