The State Department spokesman has rejected a news report characterizing China’s Uighur policies as crimes against humanity.
China on Friday dismissed a news report as a “farce” alleging that ethnic Uighur children are being separated from their parents as part of social engineering policies in the western region of Xinjiang.
At a press conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian also rejected the Economist magazine’s characterization of Chinese politics in Xinjiang, where most of China’s Muslim Uighur population lives, as a crime against humanity.
Activists say approximately one million Uyghurs and other Turks have been detained in “brainwashing” camps, mass detention that has been condemned by rights groups and foreign government officials alike.
In September, nearly two dozen activist groups wrote a letter to the United Nations claiming that Uyghur genocide had taken place and should be investigated.
An investigation by The Associated Press in June found that China was imposing draconian measures to lower the birth rate of ethnic Uyghurs as part of a comprehensive campaign to contain the Muslim population.
International law defines crimes against humanity as widespread and systematic, while the burden of proof of genocide – the intent to destroy part of a population – is more difficult to prove.
Last month, an Australian think tank showed that China’s network of detention centers in the Xinjiang area is much larger than previously thought and is expanding, despite Beijing saying it is completing its “re-education program.”
China has been heavily criticized worldwide for its treatment of the Uyghurs. Countries like the United States imposed sanctions on Beijing leaders and imported food.
The European Union has asked China to allow its independent observers to come to Xinjiang to tie human rights to future trade and investment agreements with Beijing.
In September, around 160 rights groups sent a joint letter to the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) asking them to reconsider their decision to give China the 2022 Winter Games in light of Beijing’s human rights record.