The Trump administration may sanction Chinese government officials and businesses over human rights violations against ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslim groups, The New York Times reported.
The bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin a letter two weeks ago urging them to adopt sanctions against government officials “complicit in human rights abuses” as well as entities that help the government to carry out “mass detentions and surveillance of ethnic minorities.” It also asked the Commerce Department to prevent the sale of American technology that could play a role in surveilling the Muslim minority groups.
The sanctions could be one of the first actions the Trump administration takes against China over human rights violations, according to the Times. U.S.-Chinese relations have experienced ups and downs throughout the Trump presidency so far, as President Donald Trump threatens to impose billions in tariffs on Chinese goods, but the administration has stayed fairly quiet on human rights issues.
The administration has been in talks with the Treasury and the State Department for several months about how to proceed, according to the Times.
More detailed information about detention camps for Chinese Muslims has come to light in recent years. Hundreds of thousands have reportedly been detained in the northwest region of Xinjiang, where they’re expected to denounce Islam and learn about Chinese culture.
“The scale of it — it’s massive,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of the letter’s signatories, told the Times about the detention centers. “It involves not only intimidating people on political speech, but also a desire to strip people of their identity — ethnic identity, religious identity — on a scale that I’m not sure we’ve seen in the modern era.”
China ramped up its crackdown in 2014 with the aim of eradicating terrorism, according to a Human Rights Watch report published Sunday. It resulted in mass arrests and the placement of about 1 million people in secretive facilities. The government also reportedly tracks people through the compilation of biometric data in order to root out those who pose a threat to the Communist government.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.