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What happened: The House voted overwhelmingly in support of the Uyghur people, who a United Nations body concluded has suffered human rights abuses at the hands of the Chinese government.

The details: The legislation — the Uyghur Policy Act — would appoint a new special coordinator within the State Department to coordinate on issues related to China’s treatment of the mostly Muslim Uyghur population. It passed 407-17 in the chamber, with all the nos coming from Republicans.

The context here: The House vote comes amid mass protests throughout China against strict Covid lockdown measures and the centralized power of the Chinese Communist Party. At least 10 people died earlier this week in an apartment fire in the Uyghur-majority region of Xinjiang, according to the Associated Press.

“Whether it is lockdown of protestors in Shanghai, or Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, the United States must show through words and through actions that we will have their backs in their fight against the CCP’s tyranny.”

— Rep. Young Kim (R-Calif.), who authored the legislation, on the House floor

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said from the floor on Tuesday that passage would send a “powerful signal to the Uyghur people: America sees you, we stand with you and we’re fighting with you. And we send a resounding message to Beijing: This genocide must end now.” The legislation would still have to pass the Senate before the end of this year to become law.

This isn’t Congress’ first action here. It passed legislation last year that effectively banned all imports from China’s Xinjiang region. President Joe Biden later it signed into law. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in January 2021 “my judgment remains that genocide was committed against — against the Uyghurs and that — that hasn’t changed.”


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