China on Tuesday told the new United Nations human rights chief to respect its sovereignty after she called for access to its regions following "deeply disturbing" allegations of mass detentions of Muslim minorities.
The Trump administration is considering sanctions against Chinese senior officials and companies in response to Beijing's detention of one million ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslims in indoctrination camps. "We have a lot of tools at our disposal", she said.
"Throughout the region, the Turkic Muslim population of 13 million is subjected to forced political indoctrination, collective punishment, restrictions on movement and communications, heightened religious restrictions and mass surveillance in violation of global human rights law", it added.
Towards the end of the last month, a group of U.S. lawmakers asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to impose sanctions on seven Chinese officials, including Chen Quanguo, the Communist party chief in Xinjiang, saying he had overseen the crackdown.
In Bejing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang signaled that China did not want the United Nations to get involved.
"The Chinese government is committing human rights abuses in Xinjiang on a scale unseen in the country in decades".
They are also forced to learn Mandarin and sing praises of the Chinese Communist Party, according to the report.
A law student at the University of British Columbia named Shawn Zhang has been posting satellite photos online that he says show a network of re-education camps across Xinjiang, along with information about their location.
A police patrol walk in front of the Id Kah Mosque in the old city of Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, March 22, 2017.
Officials from the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said various reports from the region indicate that Muslims are "being treated as enemies of the state exclusively on the basis of their ethno-religious identity".
China has branded reports of such camps "completely untrue", saying that the "education and training centres" to which "minor criminals" are assigned serve merely "to assist in their rehabilitation and reintegration".
Amid the allegations of systematic abuse by numerous organisations in Xinjiang, the Chinese government insisted that people in China have complete freedom to choose their religion.
The report echoes remarks by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which on August 10 said ethnic Uyghurs in China were being held in "counterextremism centers", with millions more forced into reeducation camps, turning China's Uighur region into "something that resembles a massive internment camp".