United Nations ‘alarmed’ by studies of China’s mass detention of Uighurs

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In Beijing on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the United Nations experts' comments had "no factual basis", adding that people's satisfaction with Xinjiang's security and stability had risen dramatically.

The U.S. lawmakers' letter called for "a tough, targeted, and global response".

A bipartisan group of U.S. politicians urged Washington to impose sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for rights abuses of Muslims in Xinjiang, saying the region was being turned into a "high-tech police state".

China denies such internment camps exist nevertheless says criminals eager in minor offenses are sent to "vocational training and employment coaching services" to lend a hand with their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

The Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law in the U.S. in 2012, was originally created to punish Russian human rights violators.

The letter, signed by nine Republicans, seven Democrats, and one Independent, called for sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act against senior Chinese Communist Party officials overseeing the policies, including Xinjiang party chief Chen Quanguo, and for other measures to be considered.

In response to the letter, MOFA spokeswoman Hua said that on the issue of human rights "the Chinese record is better than even the U.S. so the U.S. is really not in a position to judge China on this issue in this regard".

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The UN report cited evidence from Xinjiang that tens of thousands of Uyghurs and other minorities were being held in "long-term detention or who have been forced to spend varying periods in political "re-education camps" for even non- threatening expressions of Muslim ethno-religious culture like daily greetings".

Its findings were issued after a two-day review of China's record, the first since 2009, earlier this month.

In the past, China has rejected allegations of subjecting Uighurs to torture and discrimination in Xinjiang.

China has been accused of detaining more than a million Uighur Muslims in what United Nations human rights experts say resembles "a massive internment camp, shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no-rights zone". Panel member Gay McDougall described it as a "no-rights zone". "The argument that "a million Uighurs are detained in re-education centres" is completely untrue", Chinese representative Hu Lianhe this month told the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva. China has blamed Islamist militants and separatists for unrest in the province.

The panel expressed concern over reports of "mass surveillance disproportionately targeting ethnic Uighurs", including through frequent police checks and scanning of mobile phones at checkpoints.

The U.N. panel urged China to allow Tibetans access to passports for foreign travel and promote the use of the Tibetan language in education, the judicial system, and media.

The U.S. State Department has said it is deeply troubled by Beijing's crackdown in Xinjiang, but has declined to comment on the possibility of future sanctions on Chen and others.

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