China has denied allegations that one million of its mostly Muslim Uighur minority are being held in such camps
China on Thursday sharply rebuked US lawmakers who called on President Donald Trump's administration to slap sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the internment of a Muslim minority in the country's far-west Xinjiang region.
"The US has no right to criticize China on this issue, to be a judge in this regard," said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, pointing to America's own issues with racial discrimination.
"These lawmakers are receiving money from the American taxpayer, they should focus on their job... instead of trying to poke their nose in the business of other countries, trying to be the judge of human rights and even threatening to impose unreasonable sanctions on other countries," Hua added.
In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Wednesday, members of Congress from both parties called for sanctions against seven officials and two surveillance equipment manufacturers, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"Today I & a bipartisan group of 16 members of Congress asked @POTUS to use the Global Magnitsky Act to freeze the assets & ban the entry of Chinese officials responsible for the mass roundup of Muslims in internment camps in the #Xinjiang region," Marco Rubio said on Twitter.
China has denied allegations that one million of its mostly Muslim Uighur minority are being held in such camps.
A Chinese official told a UN human rights committee in Geneva earlier this month that tough security measures in Xinjiang were necessary to combat extremism and terrorism, but did not target any specific ethnic group or restrict religious freedoms.
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."
But multiple NGOs and China experts believe the reality is far more sinister, saying accounts from former detainees and official documents point to a massive programme of political and cultural indoctrination.
Last year, China banned "abnormally long" beards and Muslim veils in Xinjiang -- which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan -- and ordered all car owners in the region to install GPS tracking devices.
Meanwhile in December 2017, New York-based Human Rights Watch reported that Xinjiang authorities were planning to collect bio data from all residents.