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China attacks U.S. for bill condemning treatment of ethnic Muslims

A look at China's efforts to silence Muslims

China's foreign ministry denounced the United States over legislation approved by Congress that ramps up the pressure on China for its mass detention of ethnic Muslims, warning the U.S. should "correct its mistake at once."

Approved by the House of Representatives overwhelmingly on Tuesday, the measure condemns China's detention of more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in so-called re-education camps in the Xinjiang region. The legislation requires federal agencies to evaluate China's treatment of Uighurs and the State Department to determine whether Chinese officials meet the criteria for sanctions under federal human rights law.

The bill heads to the Senate for passage before landing on President Trump's desk.

In response to the legislation, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed the U.S. was attempting "to sow discord among various ethnic groups in China, undermine prosperity and stability in Xinjiang, and contain China's growth."

"We urge the U.S. to correct its mistakes at once, prevent this bill from becoming law, and stop using Xinjiang-related issues to interfere in China's internal affairs," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

The ministry said Beijing would "take further reactions according to how the situation develops."

"This U.S. bill smears our efforts in counter-terrorism and de-radicalization, which only reveals America's double standards on counter-terrorism and further exposes to the Chinese people its hypocrisy and malicious intentions," Hua said.

The measure condemning the mass detention of Uighurs is the latest passed by Congress targeting China's human rights abuses. 

At the same time, the U.S. and China have been discussing a trade deal, although on Tuesday, President Trump suggested that a deal could be pushed off until after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. That remark raised some concerns that the White House would proceed with proposed tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese imports that are supposed to go into effect on December 15. These tariffs would be imposed on consumer items including cell phones, laptops and computer monitors, among other things. 

Last week, Mr. Trump signed into law legislation supporting the ongoing protest movement in Hong Kong. That measure also angered China, which said Monday it would halt visits by U.S. warships and military aircraft in Hong Kong.

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