The United States on Tuesday condemned the "genocide" that has occurred against the Muslim Uyghur minorities in China in an annual human rights report issued for the first time under the administration of President Joe Biden.
The abusive treatment of ethnic and religious minority groups in China's far western Xinjiang region includes the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberties of more than 1 million civilians, forced sterilization, coerced abortion, rape and forced labor, the 2020 report said.
Under a U.N. convention, genocide includes actions such as killing as well as imposing measures to prevent births, committed with "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."
The "genocide" label was initially applied in the final days of the previous administration of Donald Trump amid increasingly souring U.S.-China relations. The Biden administration, which was launched on Jan. 20, has inherited the stance.
On Wednesday, Beijing lambasted Washington, saying, "The accusation of China's genocide is a big lie that violates international law."
"The United States has fabricated lies one after another and even fabricated outrageous lies such as those related to genocide and forced labor. This is really absurd," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.
China has argued that facilities called internment camps by the United States are actually vocational training centers to preemptively combat terrorism and religious extremism.
The U.S. human rights report said that 2 million people are subjected to daytime-only "re-education" training.
On the human rights situation in Russia, the report highlighted the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, opposition leader and prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in August last year.
The United States believes the attack was carried out by officers of Russia's Federal Security Service using the nerve agent Novichok.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the report released Tuesday was part of the administration's efforts to "bring to bear all the tools of our diplomacy to defend human rights and hold accountable perpetrators of abuse."
While the report did not reflect the most recent situation in Myanmar in the wake of the Feb. 1 military coup, Blinken reiterated at a press conference his concerns over the ongoing violent repression of pro-democracy protests by the military.
"We condemn these and other widespread violations by Burma's security forces in the strongest terms," he said, using another name for the Southeast Asian country.