The Trump administration imposed sanctions on several senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), accusing them of playing key roles in human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims and other religious minorities in Xinjiang region, China. These officials and their immediate families will be barred from entering the U.S. and any of their international assets will be frozen.
What makes this announcement even more significant is that the most senior official on this latest sanction list is Chen Quanguo, a member of CCP’s elite 25-member Politburo, which is the most powerful political body in China and counts CCP’s General Secretary Xi Jinping as its most senior member. No previous U.S. administrations had ever imposed sanctions on any CCP official at this senior level. This announcement came one week after the Associated Press reported that the CCP has imposed draconian birth control measures in order to limit Muslim population growth.
Early this year, President Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, which gives him authority to impose sanctions against individuals in China involved in human rights violations against Uyghur and other ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Besides punishing CCP officials, the Trump administration also warned recently that it would crack down on U.S. businesses, organizations and individuals who either contributed to human rights abuses or benefited from forced labor in Xinjiang or elsewhere in China.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SANCTIONS CHINESE OFFICIALS OVER HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AGAINST UYGHUR MUSLIMS
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made it clear that “the United States will not stand idly by as the Chinese Communist party carries out human rights abuses targeting Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, to include forced labor, arbitrary mass detention, and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith.” The Trump administration certainly backed up its words with actions.
The rest of the world has been aware of the CCP’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang since 2016, yet other than paying lip service, no other government nor the United Nation’s Human Rights Council has taken any meaningful steps to address such abuses like the Trump administration has done. The Trump administration’s latest sanctions also came only one day after the administration issued visa bans against CCP officials who are responsible for barring foreigners’ access to Tibet.
Since President Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act last year, Secretary Pompeo indicated that more sanctions are coming against Chinese officials who are responsible for enforcing Beijing’s new national security law, which has already effectively curbed Hong Kong’s autonomy and Hong Kongers’ long-cherished political freedom since it came into effect at midnight of June 30.
The Trump administration’s one-two punch on China’s human rights issues is unprecedented and it has done more to address China’s human rights issues than all previous administrations, including those run by Republican presidents.
For example, after Beijing brutally cracked down on peaceful pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, President George H.W. Bush initially condemned Beijing’s actions and temporarily suspended some arms sales to China. However, rather than taking a strong stand, he quickly announced “now is the time to look beyond the moment to important and enduring aspects of this vital relationship for the United States.”
The Bush administration’s willingness to continue to do business with Beijing while overlooking bloodstains on the streets only strengthened the CCP’s cynicism that Western democracies are nothing but a greedy bunch who are always keen on trading professed values for money. The CCP often quotes Vladimir Lenin’s words, “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them” to show their contempt for western democracies.
Minxin Pei, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College wrote recently that “such cynicism now permeates China’s strategy of asserting full control over Hong Kong. Chinese leaders expect the West’s anger at their actions to fade quickly, calculating that Western firms are too heavily invested in the city to let the perils of China’s police state be a deal-breaker.”
From President George H. W. Bush to President Barack Obama, every administration had proved that the CCP’s cynicism was right. However, Pei continued, “in Trump and his national-security hawks, China has finally met its match… no CCP leader ever imagined that the US government would be willing to write off the Chinese market in pursuit of broader geopolitical objectives,” including taking a strong stand for human rights issues in China.
One person in the Trump administration who stands out and who has been consistently and relentlessly advocating for human rights issues in China is Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. When he speaks about China, he always makes the distinction between the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people.
He consistently emphasizes that his criticism of the CCP is not to create confrontation but out of the hope that the CCP will “respect basic human rights of its own people” and “the genius of its people to flourish.” He mentions human rights in every speech on China and he has been quickly and openly condemned Beijing’s human rights abuses either through issuing statements or social media posts, time and again.
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More importantly, Secretary Pompeo always backs up his words with actions. Last year, he met with Hong Kong pro-democracy leader Martin Lee and the publisher of Apple Daily, Jimmy Lai, both of whom were arrested by Hong Kong police early this year for their support and participation of what Hong Kong authorities deemed “unlawful protests” from August to September 2019.
On May 27, 2020, less than a week after Beijing announced it intended to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong, Secretary Pompeo provided his certification to Congress, stating “Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China.”His certification, which is required under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, enables the Trump administration to identify proper response to Beijing’s breach of an international treaty it signed with Great Britain in 1984, which was supposed to guarantee Hong Kong’s semi-autonomy status for 50 years.
Then on the eve of the 31st year anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, Secretary Pompeo met former student leaders and survivors. His words and actions advocating for human rights in China earned him vicious attacks from China’s state-owned media which called him a “common enemy of mankind.” They should have known that no amount of name-calling will silence Secretary Pompeo.
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Many Americans are not aware of what the Trump administration has done to address human rights issues in China because mainstream liberal media would much rather spend their energy and time attacking the administration than actually reporting on the administration’s accomplishments. No doubt the CCP is delighted to have Americans’ liberal media outlets doing its bidding, free of charge.
It’s time American people give the Trump administration credit where credit is due, for its global leadership and all the remarkable actions it has taken to hold the CCP accountable for human rights abuses in China.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY HELEN RALEIGH