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US Responses to China’s Crimes Against the Uyghurs

China’s persecution and mistreatment of the Uyghurs has drawn increased attention from the international community and the United States. On January 19, 2021, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a determination that the atrocities against Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang constituted genocide and crimes against humanity.

In June 2020, the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 became US law. This law, which passed Congress with bipartisan support, requires tracking and reporting on human rights violations against Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang. It also calls for sanctions on individuals participating in the persecution of these groups. Legislation specifically addressing forced labor and corporate supply chains in Xinjiang has also been introduced in Congress.

In addition to the Congressional legislation, the following federal agencies have taken action in support of the Uyghurs: 

  • The US Department of the Treasury sanctioned several senior officials in China responsible for crimes against the Uyghurs, including Communist Party Secretary for the Xinjiang region Chen Quanguo. 

  • The US Department of State announced visa restrictions on senior officials for their responsibility in abuses in Xinjiang.

  • The US Department of Commerce restricted dozens of Chinese entities implicated in crimes in Xinjiang from accessing US markets and capital. 

  • The US Department of Homeland Security detained shipments at United States ports of entry containing cotton and cotton products originating from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps based on credible information that these products were made using forced labor.