In a rare moment of bipartisanship in Washington, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers appear ready to support legislation that would condemn China’s treatment and abuse of Uighur Muslims — a move that has the potential to cause political harm to President Donald Trump, no matter which side he takes.
The president has been reluctant in the past to condemn human rights abuses in general, by China or elsewhere.
Earlier this month, he opposed efforts to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide. He also derided legislation within Congress to condemn China’s response to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, signaling that the resolution hurt trade negotiations between the two countries, TIME reported.
That resolution passed, and Trump reluctantly signed it into law. China was unhappy with the move, and they’d most likely be upset with him also signing another bill from Congress that condemns their treatment of Uighur Muslims, who have been placed in internment camps by order of the Chinese government.
In a show of bipartisan unity, Republicans and Democrats are preparing veto-proof legislation that would punish China over its treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims, an attempt to force President Trump to take a more active stand on human rights in Chinahttps://t.co/0otTT7Euvp
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 27, 2019
Trump hasn’t spoken out much about those atrocities, even as members of his administration have. At one point, during an Oval Office meeting with the daughter of a Uighur professor who was sentenced to life in an internment camp in China, Trump merely replied to her protestations, “That’s tough stuff,” the New York Times reported.
A vote on a Uighur Muslim resolution, one that would be veto-proof, could be harmful to Trump, politically speaking, in two ways.
- First, if Trump decided to veto the initial bill, an override from Congress could prove damaging in an election year;
- and Second, if Trump signs the bill, it will likely upset officials from China, and could disrupt his efforts at crafting a trade agreement between Washington and Beijing.
It’s unclear as of this time which position the administration would take at this time, but it’s likely they will try to steer Congress away from the issue entirely, a move that may prove futile given the strong bipartisan support that condemnation of China’s human rights abuses has in both legislative chambers.