FILE - A Chinese police officer takes his position by the road near what is officially called a vocational education center in Yining in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, Sept. 4, 2018.
FILE - A Chinese police officer takes his position by the road near what is officially called a vocational education center in Yining in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, Sept. 4, 2018.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the United States remains concerned about reports of China’s harsh treatment of relatives of Uighur Muslim activists and survivors of Chinese internment camps.

In a statement released by the State Department, Pompeo said the U.S. is still “deeply troubled” by reports that the Chinese government has reportedly “harassed, imprisoned, or arbitrarily detained family members of Uighur Muslim activists and survivors of Xinjiang internment camps who have made their stories public.”

The top U.S. diplomat said some of the “abuses occurred shortly after meetings with senior State Department officials.”

In this Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009 photo, economist Ilham Tohti speaks to students at the Central Nationalities University in Beijing, China. His weekly lectures are a kind of high-wire act and he has been put under house arrest dozens of times over the p
Jailed Uighur Tohti Wins European Parliament Sakharov Rights Award
Ilham Tohti, the outspoken former professor of economics at a Beijing university was sentenced in 2014 by Chinese courts in a trial that provoked an outcry from foreign governments and human rights organisations

Over the past few years, China has established complexes in Xinjiang that it maintains are “vocational training centers” designed to combat terrorism and extremism and to teach new skills.

Beijing denies any mistreatment of the Uighurs and maintains that the detainees are at the complexes voluntarily.

Many world leaders have criticized China for setting up the complexes, where the U.N. says at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained.

The U.S. government and human rights groups estimate 10 percent of the Uighur population is under detention.

The nonpartisan research group the Australian Strategic Policy Institute estimates there are 143 camps where Uighurs are detained.   

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused China of committing “rampant abuses,” including torture.

The U.S. last month broadened its trade blacklist to include top Chinese artificial intelligence startup companies. It also announced visa restrictions against Chinese government and Communist Party officials it believes are behind the detention or abuse of Muslim minorities in the region.

Pompeo also Tuesday called on Beijing to “cease all harassment of Uighurs living outside China…and to allow families to communicate freely without repercussions.”