US House panel on China to highlight abuse of Uyghurs in second hearing

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A new US congressional committee on China will hold its second hearing on Thursday, seeking to highlight what Washington says is an ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang region.

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Rights groups accuse Beijing of abuses, including forced labor, mass surveillance and the placement of 1 million or more Uyghurs - a mainly Muslim ethnic group - in a network of internment camps in Xinjiang.

“It should serve as a warning for what the world would look like under CCP leadership,” congressman Mike Gallagher, Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, told reporters on Wednesday.

The hearing, set for 7 p.m. EDT on Thursday, is the latest in a series of events planned for the next two years while Republicans control the House to convince Americans that they should care about competing with China, and to “selectively decouple” the countries’ economies.

The House panel will hear from Gulbahar Haitiwaji, a Uyghur woman who survived what she has described as years in “re-education” camps and under house arrest, as well as Qelbinur Sidik, an ethnic Uzbek assigned by Chinese authorities as a teacher in one such camp.

Both women managed to get to Europe where they now reside.

Nury Turkel, a prominent Uyghur American lawyer who advocated for the US Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act that last year largely banned imports from Xinjiang, and Adrian Zenz, a German researcher who has sought to document the extent of internment camps there, will also be among those who testify.

China vigorously denies abuses in Xinjiang, and says it established “vocational training centers” to curb terrorism, separatism and religious radicalism.

The US government and parliaments in countries including Britain and Canada have described China’s birth prevention and mass detention policies in Xinjiang as genocide. A United Nations report last year said China may have committed crimes against humanity in the region.

The bipartisan committee will not write legislation, but will make policy recommendations at a time when a desire for a hard line toward China is one of the few bipartisan sentiments in the deeply divided US Congress.

Its top Democrat, US Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, told reporters that what happens to the Uyghur community in China affects Americans.

“It’s in the goods produced with slave labor, it’s the degradation of human rights that makes the world less safe, and it’s the ceaseless persecution of Uyghurs abroad that includes those living in America,” Krishnamoorthi said.

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