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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 5, 2020.

POOL New/The Associated Press

More than 75 U.S. senators and House members on Thursday urged the Trump administration to take a tougher stance on China over its crackdown in that country’s Xinjiang province and make a formal determination whether its treatment of Muslim Uighurs and other groups constitutes an atrocity, including genocide.

“It is time for action,” members of the Senate and House of Representatives, led by Republican Senator Marco Rubio, wrote Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, asking them to sanction the Chinese officials responsible for the mistreatment of Uighurs.

“These human rights abuses demand a response from the United States as well as the international community because evidence strongly indicates that the Chinese government is intentionally working to destroy and essentially wipe out Uyghur families, culture, and religious adherence and encouraging violence against women,” said the letter, seen by Reuters.

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The group also asked the administration to work with allies and partners to hold a Security Council meeting at the United Nations to appoint a special rapporteur to look into the situation in Xinjiang province.

The United States and China have been at loggerheads for months over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing’s imposition of a new security law in Hong Kong. It is also ramping up pressure on China’s treatment of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

The United Nations estimates that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps there. China has denied mistreatment and says the camps provide vocational training and help fight extremism.

Last month, President Donald Trump signed a bill, which Congress passed with only one “no” vote, calling for sanctions over the repression of Uighurs. The legislation for the first time calls for sanctions on a member of China’s powerful Politburo, Xinjiang’s Communist Party secretary, Chen Quanguo, as responsible for “gross human rights violations.”

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