A new U.S. congressional committee on China approved reports on Wednesday pushing back on Beijing over its treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities and seeking to deter the initiation of a conflict with Taiwan, hoping some of its recommendations become law this year.
Members of the Republican-led House of Representatives Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party approved both reports, its first since the panel was formed, by voice vote.
Republicans formed the panel as they took control of the House in January to focus policy and convince Americans that they should care about competing with China.
The bipartisan committee does not write legislation but makes policy recommendations, at a time when a hard line toward China is one of the few policies with bipartisan support in the deeply divided U.S. Congress.
Washington says China is committing an ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in its Xinjiang region.
The Uyghur report’s recommendations include imposing sanctions on Chinese technology companies deemed to be involved in genocide, and strengthening enforcement of existing law against imports of goods made using Uyghur forced labour.
“Let’s send a bipartisan message that Congress will stand up to genocide, the crime above all crimes,” the committee’s chairman, Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, said.
Rights groups accuse Beijing of abuses including forced labour and placing 1 million or more Uyghurs – a mainly Muslim ethnic group – in internment camps in Xinjiang.
China vigorously denies such abuses and says it established “vocational training centres” to curb terrorism, separatism and religious radicalism.
The House committee released its reports as Congress starts writing the annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a sweeping bill setting policy for the Department of Defense.
Some of its policy recommendations on Taiwan, which include improving combined training between the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries, speeding deliveries of weapons Congress has already approved for sale and strengthening U.S. bases in the region, could be added to that bill, which Congress has passed every year for six decades.
“The people of Taiwan deserve to live in peace and free from threats and intimidation,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the panel’s top Democrat.
China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has increased military, political and economic pressure to assert those claims.