China on Tuesday warned the United States that criticism of its actions in the Xinjiang region will not be “helpful” in conducting trade talks, Reuters reported. The United States had joined 22 other countries in criticising China’s treatment of the ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in the Xinjiang region as Washington and Beijing remained engaged in a trade war.

The United Nations has said in the past that at least a million Uighurs and other Muslims have been put into internment camps in China in order to combat “extremism”. China claims these camps are “vocational training centres” intended to give the Uighurs “new skills”.

“It’s hard to imagine that on the one hand you are trying to seek to have a trade deal, on the other hand you are making use of any issues, especially human rights issues, to blame the others,” China’s Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun said on Tuesday, referring to the United States. “I do not think it’s helpful for having a good solution to the issue of trade talks.”

Zhang also claimed that criticism of China’s actions in Xinjiang was “baseless” and an attempt to interfere in the country’s internal affairs.

A statement issued by Britain’s UN Ambassador Karen Pierce on behalf of 23 countries on Tuesday said: “We call on the Chinese government to uphold its national laws and international obligations and commitments to respect human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, in Xinjiang and across China.”

The United States and China are working to complete the text of an interim trade agreement for US President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to sign. The agreement is expected to be signed at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile starting November 16.

However, US envoy to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, said that the agreement may not be finalised in time to be signed in Chile. However, she said this does not mean the deal was falling apart.

US has made a ‘fabulous deal’ with China: Jared Kushner

Meanwhile, Trump’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner claimed on Tuesday that the United States and China have come to an understanding on the direction of their trade relationship, Reuters reported. Kushner told a panel at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “have made a fabulous deal” with Beijing.

“I think people understand the president, that he’s firm, they know that he’s going to make the decisions that he thinks are right, and I think ultimately that we’ve come to an understanding with China now on where we want to head,” Kushner said.

China and the US have imposed tariffs against each other worth hundreds of billions of dollars in two-way trade since last year. However, Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping came to an agreement in December 2018 to stop further escalation. Trump had accused Beijing of indulging in unfair trade practices.

Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.