Chinese authorities are undertaking "unprecedented" repression of ethnic minorities including Muslim Uighurs as authoritarian government tactics cause human rights conditions to deteriorate across the country, a damning US congressional report released Wednesday concluded.
The bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China, in its annual report, said repression has actually worsened in recent years despite Beijing's dramatic economic growth and broader engagement with the world.
It highlights "the dire human rights situation inside China and the continued downward trajectory, by virtually every measure," since Xi Jinping became the Communist Party's general secretary in 2012 and president the following year.
"Of particular concern is the mass, arbitrary internment of as many as one million or more Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in 'political re-education' camps in western China," committee chairman Senator Marco Rubio and co-chairman congressman Chris Smith said in the report's summary.
They warned that such abuses "may constitute crimes against humanity." And importantly, they stressed that the Communist Party "unflinchingly continues to preserve its monopoly on domestic political power through state-sponsored repression, surveillance, indoctrination and brutality."
Washington, and in particular Congress, has been a consistent critic of Beijing on the human rights front.
But the government of the world's most populous nation has come in for criticism on multiple fronts, including the United Nations, which in August decried as "deeply disturbing" recent allegations of large-scale arbitrary detentions of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.
The US this year took in the widow of Nobel Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo, a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests who died last year of liver cancer while serving an 11-year sentence for "subversion." The commission said Chinese authorities detained at least 14 people who had tried to honour Liu Xiaobo's life.
The congressional report also assailed Beijing for its heavy-handed control of Hong Kong, citing the "continued erosion" of the city's autonomy as it faces an unprecedented challenge from Beijing.
And it says the party implements repressive policies in Tibet, including "extensive and intrusive surveillance, strict regulations and rules to restrict Tibetans' religious and cultural rights."
(With inputs from agencies.)