- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 3, 2021

A Florida Republican congressman wants China barred from taking part in the U.S.-led Rim of the Pacific naval war games, citing Beijing’s human rights record and its repression of the country’s Uyghur Muslim minority.

The biennial Rim of the Pacific, known as RIMPAC, is the largest international maritime warfare exercise in the world, U.S. Navy officials said.

China‘s “continued oppression of the Uyghur Muslims is one of the most repugnant human rights abuses in modern history,” said Rep. Scott Franklin, whose district stretches from Tampa to Orlando. “As the world leader in standing up for human dignity, the United States must do everything in our power to pressure the PRC into ceasing its horrific behavior.”

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act included language barring China from taking part in future RIMPAC exercises until it ceased land reclamation activities in the South China Sea and removed any weapons placed there. China also must establish a “consistent four-year track record” of taking actions toward stabilizing the region, lawmakers said.

Mr. Franklin said his new bill would add human rights concerns to the list of criteria that would have to be met.

“It should be common sense that we shouldn’t be engaging in military exercises with China while they actively commit genocide against the Uyghur people,” said Rep. Greg Steube, Florida Republican and a co-sponsor of the bill. It is one of nearly a dozen pieces of legislation being advanced by House Republicans aimed at pushing back against Chinese aggression, lawmakers said.

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