Uyghur Policy Act of 2023 (H.R.2766/S.1252)

The Uyghur Policy Act (H.R.2766) was introduced in the House on April 20, 2023, by Rep. Young Kim (R-CA), co-sponsored by Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) and 16 other original cosponsors. On November 29, 2023, it was approved unanimously by the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) by a vote of 40–0, and reported out to the Speaker of the House for a floor vote.

A companion bill in the Senate, the Uyghur Policy Act of 2023 (S.1252) was introduced on April 20, 2023, by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), with cosponsors Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS).

The full title is: “To support the human rights of Uyghurs and members of other minority groups residing in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and safeguard their distinct identity, and for other purposes.”

The bill finds that:

  • Uyghurs have maintained throughout their history a distinct religious and cultural identity.
  • Article One of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights state that all peoples have the right to self-determination.
  • Both Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo have confirmed the U.S. government determination that the Chinese government has committed genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs.

The bill authorizes a United States Special Coordinator for Uyghur Issues, within the State Department (Section 4), who will seek to promote the protection and preservation of the distinct ethnic, cultural, religious, and linguistic identities of the Uyghurs.

The U.S. Special Coordinator for Uyghur Issues shall:

  1. Coordinate U.S. Government policies, programs, and projects concerning the Uyghurs;
  2. Vigorously promote the policy of seeking to protect the distinct ethnic, religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Uyghurs;
  3. Maintain close contact with religious, cultural, and political leaders of the Uyghurs, including seeking regular travel to the XUAR and to Uyghur settlements in Central Asia, Turkey, Albania, Germany, and other parts of Europe;
  4. Lead coordination efforts for the release of political prisoners who are being detained for exercising their human rights;
  5. Consult with Congress on policies relevant to the XUAR and the Uyghurs;
  6. Coordinate with relevant Federal agencies to administer aid to Uyghur rights advocates; 
  7. Make efforts to establish contacts with foreign ministries of other countries, especially in Europe, Central Asia, and the Islamic world, to pursue a policy of promoting greater respect for human rights and religious freedom for Uyghurs and other groups.