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Trump’s refusal to sanction China for committing the mass genocide of Uighur Muslims

BY: Qudsia Saeed

Although President Trump recently signed the Uighur Human Rights Protection Act, questions regarding the extent to which he will effectively enforce this bipartisan legislation arose after former national security advisor, John Bolton, revealed the economic reservations that prevented Trump from sanctioning China for the vicious atrocities they commit. Instead, Trump commended China’s policy of placing the Uighur Muslim population in mass internment camps on two separate occasions. According to Bolton, Trump allegedly told President Xi Jinping that building the camps was "exactly the right thing to do" in a meeting where Trump begged Mr. Xi to buy American farm products to help boost his reelection campaign.

Given the history of Islamophobic rhetoric that has preoccupied US administrations since September 11th, 2001 as well as bigotry and xenophobia that motivated Trump to outright ban travel from Muslim-majority nations, Trump’s approval of the mass internment of Muslims isn’t surprising and is indeed very politically motivated.

Trump had held off on signing the bill amid trade negotiations claiming that "when you're in the middle of a negotiation and then all of a sudden you start throwing additional sanctions on - we've done a lot. I put tariffs on China, which are far worse than any sanction you can think of." He deliberately chose to prioritize money over the lives of innocent people for years, and further recommended that sanctions for trade will fundamentally be harsher and of more importance than sanctions for a mass genocide.

In order to understand the harm that Trump’s refusal to sanction has caused, one needs to understand the history and severity of the situation in Xinjiang, China. Since the USA's declaration of the “War on Terror”, innocent Uighurs are seen as a threat and their opposition has been painted as a terrorist movement by the Chinese. More than 3 million Uighur Muslims and other ethnics minorities in the Xinguang region have been targeted and thrown in internment camps. While there, they are forced to denounce Islam and adopt Atheism, and pledge allegiance to the Chinese state, as part of the state’s attempt to combat extremism and terrorism. People are detained for absurd reasons such as engagement in religious activity, contacting people abroad, and internet browsing.

China makes the camps appear vocational and educational and denies targeting religious and ethnic groups, however that is far from reality. In particular, they target Muslim Uighurs and separate their families by sending men to the concentration camps, children to orphanages, and force women to marry Chinese men who rape them on the regular. Muslims inside the camps are forced to eat pork, drink alcohol and denounce Islam in order to adopt and advance their propaganda, however, conditions extending beyond the camps are just as bad as people are forced to install a spyware app on their cellphones, so the government can monitor and punish their activities.

Furthermore, their labor is exploited, as an estimate of more than 80,000 Uighurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019. Uighurs are working in factories of at least 83 well-known global brands including Apple, BMW, Gap,

Nike, Samsung, Sony, and Volkswagen. Multiple sources suggest that in factories across China, many Uighur workers lead a harsh and segregated life under so-called ‘military-style management’.

Human rights lawyers have described the genocide as a “total transformation that is designed to wipe the Muslim Uighurs as a seperate culture off the face of the earth”. By encouraging rather than addressing the genocide, Trump acted on islamophobia and prioritized potential political and economic gains over the lives of innocent Muslims, and needs to held accountable.

*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.


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