Chinese President Xi Jinping’s regime is harassing Chinese Americans and other repressed minorities that dissent from his ruling Communist Party, according to a pair of Republican lawmakers.
“This manifestation of China's long arm cannot, must not, and will not go unanswered,” Sen. Marco Rubio, co-chair of the Congressional Executive Commission on China, told reporters Wednesday.
Rubio stressed that he has heard of the abuse from “Americans and legal permanent residents, who are being harassed and threatened here — here, in the United States.” The Florida Republican, along with New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, wants FBI Director Christopher Wray to investigate those incidents and coordinate with the State Department to punish Chinese government officials responsible for the targeting policy.
“[W]e believe there is already sufficient evidence available to warrant a more concerted outreach effort, including mechanisms like a possible anonymous tip line, to counter brazen Chinese government threats and influence operations on American soil,” Rubio and Smith wrote in a Wednesday letter to the FBI chief.
The pair released that letter while unveiling their commission’s annual report on China. It is a catalog of the regime’s human rights abuses — including the crackdown on Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, involving what "may be the largest incarceration of an ethnic minority population since World War II” — abuse of religious freedom and the harassment of American journalists and Chinese Christians.
"U.S.-China tensions are high at the moment on many fronts and the Chinese government presumably is searching for ways to reduce — not escalate — them," said Smith, a New Jersey Republican. "Taking a hammer and sickle to the cross or jailing a million Uyghur Muslims will only ensure a tougher China policy, one with widespread, bipartisan and even global support."
The report is intended to spur a more confrontational approach with China, after years of U.S. policymakers seeking economic integration with the rising Asian power. “China's domestic repression is directly related to its international aggression and global political influence operations and as a result are directly connected to the vital U.S. national interests,” Rubio said Wednesday.
Some of those steps are symbolic, such as the nomination of detained Uighur economic Ilham Tohti for the Nobel Peace Prize; likewise, they called for China to lose the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
They also unveiled legislation condemning the repression of Uighur, a bill that urges the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the crackdown and discourage U.S. companies from selling surveillance technology that can be used in Xinjiang.
“As American policymakers revisit the assumptions that previously informed U.S.-China relations, and seek to chart a new path forward, it is vital that our foreign policy prioritizes the promotion of universal human rights and the protection of basic human dignity, principles the Chinese Communist Party is actively trying to redefine,” Rubio and Smith said in a statement accompanying the report.