The Chinese Embassy in Washington on Tuesday criticised the United States’ decision to impose visa restrictions on a few of its officials, Reuters reported. The curbs were imposed as a mark of protest against Beijing’s treatment towards Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.

A spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy condemned the US move, and said it violated basic rules of international relations and interfered in “China’s internal affairs” and undermined the country’s interests. “Xinjiang does not have the so-called human rights issue claimed by the US,” the spokesperson said. “The accusations by the US side are merely made-up pretexts for its interference.”

The US decided to impose the visa restrictions two days after it blacklisted 28 Chinese organisations purportedly involved in human rights abuses. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that China had launched “a highly aggressive campaign”, according to BBC.

Pompeo also accused Beijing of human rights violations of the Uighur Muslim community, ethnic Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz Muslims, among other minority Muslim communities. The allegations include setting up of internment camps for mass detentions, surveillance and curbs on freedom of expression of cultural and religious identities.

“The United States calls on the People’s Republic of China to immediately end its campaign of repression in Xinjiang, release all those arbitrarily detained, and cease efforts to coerce members of Chinese Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate,” Pompeo’s said in a statement.

According to the United Nations, at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained to forcibly stop Islamic traditions and integrate Uighurs into the majority Han population. However, China claims it is providing vocational training and discouraging extremism.

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