Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley blasted China on Monday over the country’s internment of religious and ethnic minorities, particularly Uighur Muslims.
“It is the largest internment of civilians in the world today,” Haley said during a keynote speech at the Chiefs of Defense Conference dinner in Washington. “It may be the largest since World War II.”
“At least a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been imprisoned in so-called ‘re-education camps’ in western China,” Haley said, according to Fox News, adding that detainees are “tortured … forced to renounce their religion and to pledge allegiance to the Communist Party.”
A government report released by Chinese media on Tuesday defended its internment of the minority groups, labeling the internment camps as “free vocational training” and arguing that the camp’s lessons in Mandarin and science are preventing Muslim minorities from religious extremism, according to The Associated Press.
Haley’s comments come as tensions between Washington and Beijing ramp up amid an ongoing trade war between the two nations.
Last month, Trump hit Chinese imports with a new 10 percent tariff on $200 billion in goods. Beijing countered with $60 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods. The president said he would raise those tariffs to 25 percent without a U.S.–China deal.
Trump has threatened another $257 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, which would cover all U.S. imports from China.
Haley, during her address, also cited the importance of worldwide cooperation in fighting global terrorism.
“That there is good work to be done and the United States wants to be a key player in partnering you to do that … It’s a room that reflects the seriousness and the urgency of the ongoing fight against violent extremism,” Haley said.
“Many of you represent nations whose people have been the victims of terrorist attacks. Americans certainly know all too well the pain of such attacks. It is an issue that unites the civilized world,” she added.
Haley announced last week that she would leave her post at the end of the year.