After a long dispute regarding trade between China and the United States, an agreement on phase 1 of the a new trade agreement was released today, on Jan 15, 2020. Before the release, there was an anticipation on the part of human rights advocates, (especially those concentrating on China Communist Party atrocities against China’s minorities) that there might be some language in the agreement which would tie improved trade with better conditions for human rights in China. Sadly, that is not the case.
Justice For All, an NGO responding to the persecution of minorities in Asia, is deeply troubled by the Trump administration’s abandonment of the ethnic and religious minorities of China in the phase 1 trade agreement. While we are pleased by the language with regard to Intellectual Property protection and counterfeiting, we would have liked to see some direct tie in between trade and improved human rights conditions for the Uighur and other Chinese minorities.
There has been increasing pressure on China to shut down its concentration camps for the Uighur, including a campaign to the Olympic Committee to reconsider holding the Winter Games in Beijing. Moreover, as an indication of increasing Chinese repression, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, an American citizen, was denied entry into Hong Kong. These acts of repression will only increase unless the international community takes decisive and strong steps against Chinese authorities.
We call upon the Trump administration to include improvement of human rights in China in phase 2 of the trade agreement. We also call upon the administration to take direct diplomatic action to alleviate the suffering of the Uighur and other Chinese minorities, and to consider sanctions against Chinese officials who are found complicit in these crimes against humanity.