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U.S. imposes sanctions against China over abuse of Uighurs

Context:

The Biden administration said it is imposing new sanctions on several Chinese biotech and surveillance companies and government entities for actions in Xinjiang province, the latest step against Beijing over human rights abuses of Uighur Muslims.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who are Uyghurs?
  2. About China’s Treatment of Uyghurs
  3. U.S. Sanctions on China

Who are Uyghurs?

  • Uyghurs are predominately Turkic-speaking Sunni Muslims who live primarily in the autonomous region of Xinjiang. Islam came to the region in the 10th century. Prior to Islam, the Uyghurs embraced Buddhism, Shamanism, and Manicheism.
  • Uyghurs embraced Islam in 934 during the Karahanid Kingdom. Kashgar, the capital of the Kingdom, quickly became one of the major learning centers of Islam.
  • Art, the sciences, music and literature flourished as Islamic religious institutions nurtured the pursuit of an advanced culture. In this period, hundreds of world-renowned Uyghur scholars emerged.
  • Uyghurs played an important role in cultural exchanges between the East and West and developed a unique culture and civilization of their own based on Islam.

About China’s Treatment of Uyghurs

  • The Hui Muslim 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army) governed the southern region of East Turkestan (named Xinjiang by the Chinese government) in 1934–1937. The administration that was set up was colonial in nature, importing Han cooks and baths, changing the Uyghur language-only street names and signs to Chinese, as well as switching carpet patterns in state-owned carpet factories from Uyghur to Han.
  • Strict surveillance and mass detentions of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang re-education camps is a part of the ongoing sinicization policy by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since 2015, it has been estimated that over a million Uyghurs have been detained in these camps. The camps were established under CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping’s administration with the main goal of ensuring adherence to national ideology.
  • Critics of China’s treatment of Uyghurs have accused the Chinese government of propagating a policy of sinicization in Xinjiang in the 21st century, calling this policy a cultural genocide, or ethnocide, of Uyghurs.

U.S. Sanctions on China

  • The U.S is imposing new sanctions on several Chinese biotech and surveillance companies and government entities over human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China.
  • The US Commerce Department is targeting China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and its 11 research institutes that focus on using biotechnology to support the Chinese military.
  • The US Treasury Department is also set to issue penalties against several Chinese entities.
  • The move will bar American companies from selling components to the entities without a license. The bill also calls on USA companies or individuals operating in the Xinjiang region to take steps to ensure their products do not include parts using forced labor of Uyghurs.
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September 2022
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