As of January 2020, the United States Peace Corps has announced to Congress their intention to remove all volunteers from China. The organization is planning to remove all 134 current volunteers in the country in June. The organization has also updated its website with a claim that no volunteer opportunities currently exist in China. As of now, no official statement has been released as to why this change is occurring.

News on this decision was initially released in a statement given by Florida Senator Marco Rubio. While he did not state a specific reason for this decision, Rubio claimed that China is “no longer a developing country” and therefore should not be supported by U.S. tax dollars that fund the Peace Corps.

This announcement from the organization comes on the heels of a proposed bill from Florida Senator Rick Scott. The proposed Peace Corps Mission Accountability Act would make the now independent executive agency answer to the Secretary of state and ensure that volunteer work is “in line with the foreign policy goals of the United States.” The bill would also call for the agency to cease any operations in “hostile territories.”

The move also comes after a December report from the Congressional- Executive Commission on China (CECC) declaring the possibility that China is violating human rights in the region of Xinjiang. International voices have heavily criticized the establishment of ethnic internment camps in this region.

With a lack of clear statements regarding the change, it is unclear what the Peace Corp’s future plans for China are. There is potential for this change to set a precedent for future removal from other countries given political actions. Recent removal of volunteers has mostly been due to financial concerns such as the December retraction in Liberia.