December 04, 2020

Congress Isn’t Leading on Human Rights in China

By Jordan Schneider and ​Coby Goldberg

Members of the U.S. Congress say they want to be tougher on China and move human rights to the forefront of the relationship. But representatives have failed to use the body’s strongest legislative levers in response to crises like the Xinjiang labor camps and Hong Kong’s new national security law. Conversations with more than 20 Republican and Democratic staffers make clear that, without direction from the executive branch, Congress is not likely to act forcefully by itself. The Biden administration will need to push Congress if it wants tough legislation to deal with Chinese human rights abuses.

The Biden administration will need to push Congress if it wants tough legislation to deal with Chinese human rights abuses.

Many members of Congress have expressed horror at China’s forced detention and labor camps for Uighur and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. The Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (both 2020), the two strongest pieces of legislation aimed at removing the products of forced labor from American supply chains, would presumably be no-brainers for most lawmakers looking to pick a fight with China. However, 163 House Republicans voted against the Disclosure Act, and although it passed the House it faces little chance of being picked up by the Senate. The Prevention Act, the narrower of the two, garnered near-unanimous approval from the House, but it also may very well not see a vote in the Senate.

Read the full article in Foreign Policy.

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