China is in a “league of its own” when it comes to human rights violations, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday as Washington slammed Beijing for rights violations and deterioration of conditions.

In its annual report, the State Department alleged that in 2018, the Chinese government significantly intensified its campaign of mass detention of members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang).

“There’s China, which is in a league of its own when it comes to human rights violations. In just 2018, China intensified its campaign of detaining Muslim minority groups at record levels,” Pompeo said as he released the annual Congressional-mandated country reports on human rights.

“Today, more than one million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims are interred in reeducation camps designed to erase their religious and ethnic identities.

“The government also is increasing its persecution against Christians, Tibetans and anyone who espouses different views from those or advocates of those of government or advocates change in government,” Pompeo alleged.

The report alleged that the Chinese authorities were reported to have arbitrarily detained 800,000 to possibly more than two million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslims in internment camps designed to erase religious and ethnic identities.

Government officials claimed that the camps were needed to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism. International media, human rights organisations, and former detainees reported security officials in the camps abused, tortured, and killed some detainees, it alleged.

The latest annual report evaluates the practices of roughly 200 countries and territories.

In his opening remarks, Pompeo listed countries like Iran, South Sudan and Nicaragua, in addition to China, as some of the worst abusers of human rights.

“Today, the State Department continues to play a leading role in championing human rights across the globe, honouring the vision of our founders and expressing our time-honoured American aspiration for all people to be free,” he said.

Pompeo said that their aim is always to identify human rights challenges and use American influence and power to move every nation towards better, more consistent human rights practices.