US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington remained deeply troubled by multiple reports that the Chinese government has harassed and imprisoned family members of Uighur Muslim activists.

Uighurs and their supporters protest in front of the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations in New York on March 15, 2018.
Uighurs and their supporters protest in front of the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations in New York on March 15, 2018. (Reuters)

The US remains deeply troubled by multiple reports that the Chinese government has "harassed, imprisoned, or arbitrarily detained" family members of Uighur Muslim activists and survivors of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region internment camps who have made their stories public, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.

"In some cases, these abuses occurred shortly after meetings with senior State Department officials," Pompeo said in a statement, reiterating Washington's call for Beijing to release those detained.

China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in remote the autonomous region that it describes as "vocational training centres" to stamp out extremism and give people new skills. The United Nations says at least one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained.

China has denied any mistreatment of Uighurs, and insists Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is its internal affair.

The US government last month widened its trade blacklist to include some of China's top artificial intelligence start-ups and announced visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials it believes responsible for the detention or abuse of Muslim minorities in the autonomous region

"We once again call on Beijing to cease all harassment of Uighurs living outside of China ... and to allow families to communicate freely without repercussions," Pompeo said.

Muslim Uighur minority live predominantly in a region claimed by Uighurs in China, which is home to some 10 million people, most of whom are Muslim.

Source: Reuters