United States weighs sanctions against Chinese officials over Muslim detention camps

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Human Rights Watch released a report last weekend recommending targeted sanctions on Chinese officials, refuse visas and control relevant technology, the New York Times reported Monday.

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

Multiple reports claim that at least one million Uighurs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the country's northwest have been detained in indoctrination camps where they are forced to denounce Islam and profess loyalty to the Communist Party.

Asked whether or not the USA was considering economic sanctions against Chinese officials accused of overseeing the policies, Nauert acknowledged the State Department had received a letter from members of Congress on the issue, but declined to discuss details of any potential government action. "It's the old standard line on sanctions, that we're not going to preview any sanctions that may or may not happen".

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"China urges the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and its office to strictly abide by the mission and principles of the UN Charter to respect China's sovereignty", said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

But he said that various ethnic groups in the region have a common desire for social stability, and that the Chinese government guarantees freedom of faith based on law.

Last month, a United Nations rights panel said it had received credible reports that up to one million ethnic Uighurs may be held in extra-legal detention in Xinjiang, and called for them to be freed.

Many interviewees said that more than half of their family are in prison, or political re-education camps.

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They are also forced to learn Mandarin and sing praises of the Chinese Communist Party, according to the report. "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.

Discussions have gained momentum within the United States government over possible economic penalties in response to reports of mass detentions of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in China's far western region, which have prompted an global outcry.

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".

"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.

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As many as 13 million Muslims living in the region are increasingly subjected to mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment by the Chinese government, the report noted.

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