Trump Upbeat on US-China Talks as Beijing Underscores Tariff-Cut Demands

A prison in the Chinese region of Xinjiang

A prison in the Chinese region of Xinjiang

The Senate must pass the new version before the bill can be sent to Donald Trump, US president, for signing into law.

Beijing is responding furiously after the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation Tuesday that would apply sanctions against senior Chinese officials accused of maltreating Uighurs. In July, ambassadors of over 50 countries to the UN Office in Geneva co-signed a letter to the president of the UN Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, applauding China's respect and protection of human rights in its counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts.

Beijing says the measures are necessary to combat terrorism and eradicate religious extremism. It has warned of retaliation "in proportion" if Chen were targeted. After reconciling the two bills it will go to the President's desk, where Trump will once again face either signing it (probably with signing statements), or vetoing it with a almost certain override in the Congress, or not signing, in which case it would usually become law after 10 days.

The bill already passed in the Senate in September with support from both major parties, sailing through unanimously.

China is in the process of waiving retaliatory tariffs on imports of USA pork and soy by domestic companies, a procedural step that may also signal a broader trade agreement with the drawing closer.

The legislation is aimed at stopping oppression of the Uighur population, concentrated in the Xinjiang province of northwest China, the senators said in a statement. The latest House measure condemns the arbitrary mass detention of Uighurs and calls for closure of the re-education camps where, according to rights groups and U.S. lawmakers, they have been held and abused.

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China's tariff waivers on key U.S. agricultural products is a sign of its commitment to the deal, said an industry source who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The Uighur bill calls for sanctions on Chinese officials who are "credibly alleged to be responsible for human rights abuses in Xinjiang".

"But the facts are the complete opposite", said Li Yunlong, a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Beijing's treatment of the Uighur community was an "outrage to the collective conscience of the world".

"It's hard to tell where something like this fits into the administration's overall strategy", she said.

Chinese spokespeople have expressed hope for a settlement "as soon as possible", but Trump spooked global financial markets this week by saying he might be willing to wait until after the USA presidential election late next year.

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Those waivers are said to have expired, although new exemptions may come too late, said an analyst.

He said on Tuesday, however, that an agreement might have to wait until after the November 2020 United States presidential election in which he is seeking a second term.

Johnson said he did not think passage of the Uighur act would be the reason for this, but added: "It would be another dousing of kindling with fuel".

In response to the new legislation, China may consider imposing visa restrictions on US lawmakers and ban all USA passport holders from entering Xinjiang, according to the editor-in-chief of the Communist Party-backed Global Times.

The White House has not signaled whether the president will sign the bill.

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