Trump administration remains focused on China’s ‘trade abuses’ rather than its human rights abuses

By | May 5, 2019

The New York Times reports:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo avoided saying on Sunday whether the Trump administration would impose targeted sanctions on China over mass detentions of Muslims, in another sign of the administration’s paralysis on the issue.

Mr. Pompeo was asked on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” about whether the administration might punish Chinese officials for the detention of hundreds of thousands to millions of ethnic minority Muslims in camps in Xinjiang, a vast region in northwest China.

The New York Times reported on Saturday that after months of debate, American officials had shelved proposed targeted sanctions for fear of jeopardizing continuing trade talks, and are unwilling to raise the issue in the talks.

When pressed on CBS on the matter, Mr. Pompeo said he had raised the issue of human rights “in multiple conversations” with Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, and other officials. But he did not answer a question about any potential move on sanctions.

Mr. Pompeo has criticized the camps and said last week on Fox News that their use was “reminiscent of the 1930s.” But the State Department has been unsuccessful in pushing through proposed sanctions. Last fall, American officials drew up a policy to impose sanctions on specific Chinese officials and companies over the camps, with a legal basis in the Global Magnitsky Act, but the policy failed to get through an interagency review process.

While the State Department and the White House National Security Council approved the action, the Treasury Department voiced concerns about the effect on trade talks, according to American officials. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has generally been a proponent of reinforcing strong business ties with China, the world’s second-largest economy. [Continue reading…]

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