China on Wednesday told the US to stop interfering in its domestic affairs on the pretext of Uighurs in Xinjiang and warned that bilateral ties will be hurt if it slapped sanctions against senior Chinese officials.

The US State Department on Tuesday said it was worried over Beijing’s “worsening crackdown” on Uighur Muslims in China’s far western Xinjiang province.

A news report also said that Washington was weighing options to put sanctions on the Chinese officials involved in the policy making in the restive region.

“The Chinese are always opposed to the US using the Xinjiang related issues to interfere in China-related affairs,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press briefing.

“The Chinese government protects people’s freedom of religion and people of all ethnic groups are fully entitled to freedom of religion.

“If the relevant report is true, we urge the relevant party to respect the fact, abandon prejudices and stop taking actions that may harm the China-US mutual trust and cooperation,” Geng added.

Xinjiang is home to over half of China’s 24 million Muslims. Majority of the Muslims in this region are Turkic-speaking Uighurs who Beijing sees as secessionists.

There are reports of China detaining up to 1 million Muslims in indoctrination camps in the region. The UN and human rights organisation have expressed concerns over the issue.