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A coalition of 43 countries denounced China’s human rights record at the United Nations on Thursday, criticizing Beijing for its detainment of Uyghurs in the western region of Xinjiang.

While the group of mostly Western nations criticizes China annually in the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee, that rebuke was joined this year for the first time by countries including Turkey, Eswatini and Liberia. The new additions to last year’s group, which included 39 nations, help push back against Chinese claims that the rebuke is part of a Western effort to keep China from rising.

“We have seen an increasing number of reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations, including reports documenting torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced separation of children,” French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said on behalf of the group. “Widespread surveillance disproportionately continues to target Uyghurs and members of other minorities.”

China shot back, with a Cuban envoy delivering a statement on behalf of 62 countries calling for respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of states. Zhang Jun, China’s U.N. ambassador, called the criticism baseless at a news conference after the U.N. meeting, and he blamed the U.S. for pressuring other nations to side against China.

“The U.S. and a few other countries are desperately trying to cover up their own terrible human rights record,” Zhang said. “The days when Western countries could bully and oppress developing countries are long gone.”

The international community has piled pressure on China over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, where the U.N. estimates hundreds of thousands of members of the ethnic minority have been held in “re-education camps.” Beijing has defended the camps as “vocational education centers” intended to “purge ideological diseases,” including terrorism and religious extremism.

The U.N. group further called on China to allow “immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers,” including the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. The group also called on countries not to send back asylum-seekers from Xinjiang in light of the “human rights situation” there.

Louis Charbonneau, the U.N. director for Human Rights Watch, said the U.N. statement is significant because “for the first time, all U.N. regional groups joined in calling for the violations in Xinjiang to stop and U.N. investigators to get immediate access. U.N. member states should establish an international commission of inquiry to formally investigate alleged crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and recommend avenues for holding those responsible to account.”

The U.N. move comes after U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday asked the U.S. Customs and Border Protection about its enforcement of the ban on cotton imports from China’s Xinjiang region, saying the upcoming National Basketball Association season raises concerns about endorsement deals some athletes have with Chinese sportswear companies.

The Biden administration has stood by a declaration made on the final full day of the Trump administration that China is committing “genocide” in Xinjiang, a decision denounced by officials in Beijing.

In May, Europe suspended ratification of an investment pact with China, after the two sides exchanged tit-for-tat sanctions over Xinjiang. The European Parliament subsequently passed a resolution urging a boycott of the Winter Olympics next year in Beijing due to the issue.

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