Washington (AFP) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an act authorizing sanctions against Chinese officials for the mass incarceration of Uighur Muslims.
Trump's announcement came at a time when excerpts emerged from a new explosive book by his former national security adviser John Bolton, who said the president told his Chinese colleague Xi Jinping that he approved of the vast detention camps.
Trump was expected to sign the Uighur Human Rights Act, which passed Congress almost unanimously amid great outrage over China's treatment of the minority.
"The law holds authors responsible for human rights violations and abuses, such as the systematic use of indoctrination camps, forced labor and intrusive surveillance to eradicate the ethnic identity and religious beliefs of Uighurs and other minorities in China," Trump said in a statement.
The legislation requires the U.S. government to determine which Chinese authorities are responsible for the "arbitrary detention, torture and harassment" of Uighurs and other minorities.
The United States would freeze all the assets that the authorities hold in the largest economy in the world and ban its entry into the country.
Trump, signing the act, opposed a technical aspect of the legislation on his powers as president to end sanctions against individuals.
Activists say China has brought together at least one million Uighurs and other Turkish Muslims and is forcibly homogenizing them in a brainwashing campaign with few modern precedents.
Beijing says it is running vocational education centers that offer an alternative to Islamic extremism.
According to the Washington Post, Bolton said in his next book that Xi explained the issue to Trump, who told him that detention camps were "exactly the right thing to do".