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Human Rights Watch Warns of 'Massive Crackdown' on China's Muslims

Human Rights Watch Warns of 'Massive Crackdown' on China's Muslims

China today dismissed a call by United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to allow monitors into Xinjiang, Reuters reports.

China yesterday urged the U.S. to abandon its "prejudice" over Xinjiang, as Washington considers sanctions against Chinese officials and companies linked to allegations of human rights abuses.

"We have a lot of tools at our disposal".

The State Department on Tuesday expressed concern following reports of mass detentions of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims, which has prompted worldwide outcry.

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. "We're not going to preview any sanctions that may or may not happen".

Geng Shuang, China's foreign ministry spokesman, said that the government is trying to "promote stability, development, unity and livelihoods" while ending "ethnic separatism and violent terrorist criminal activities".

The government has previously blamed anti-China forces for being behind criticism of its policies in Xinjiang.

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The economic penalties would be one of the first times the Trump administration has taken action against China because of human rights violations. "It is evident that China does not foresee a significant political cost to its abusive Xinjiang campaign, partly due to its influence within the United Nations system", HRW said.

The country is accused of running re-education camps, where Uighurs are forced to renounce aspects of their religious beliefs and ostensibly learn about Chinese culture. "They may be subjected to solitary confinement, not be allowed to eat for a certain period, or required to stand for 24-hour periods, among other punishments", said HRW researcher Maya Wang.

Reports had been received of "patterns of human rights violations in other regions", added Bachelet, a former Chilean president, calling for Beijing to permit access for her staff across China, saying she expected discussions to start soon.

On Monday, the new United Nations Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet became the latest high profile worldwide figure to speak out against alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

There are reports of China detaining up to 1 million Muslims in indoctrination camps in the region.

"My understanding is the issue has been raised very diplomatically to signal the concern ... but not cause the wrath of the Chinese government", Nargis Kassenova, director of the Central Asian Studies Center at KIMEP University in Almaty, said recently.

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.