Beijing has been directly accused of trying to wipe out its minority Uighur population in a stunning new report.
The findings, released this week by US think-tank the Newslines Institute for Strategy and Policy, revealed the Chinese Communist Party government had the "intent to destroy" Uighurs and had flouted international law by committing genocide.
It claimed there was "clear and convincing" evidence that the CCP "bears responsibility" for breaching "each and every act prohibited" by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The report specifically called out President Xi Jinping's People's War on Terror, which was launched in 2014 against the Uighurs.
In response, government officials issued orders to "round up everyone who should be rounded up … wipe them out completely … destroy them root and branch" and to "break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins".
They also spoke about the minority Muslim group in "dehumanising terms and repeatedly likened the mass internment of Uighurs to 'eradicating tumours'".
"Uighurs are suffering serious bodily and mental harm from systematic torture and cruel treatment, including rape, sexual abuse, exploitation, and public humiliation … under Government-mandated programs," the report said, adding detainees suffered from "brutal torture methods" that were "designed to indoctrinate and 'wash clean' brains".
However, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi denied accusations of genocide earlier this week, branding it a "complete lie" and "a rumour with ulterior motives".
"The so-called 'genocide' … is ridiculously absurd," he said.
But the report confirmed previous allegations that Uighurs were routinely detained in "re-education camps" in the northwestern Xinjiang province where they experienced rape, torture, forced sterilisation and labour.
CHINA'S HORROR TRACK RECORD
In recent times, China has been accused of a raft of atrocities against the Uighur population, with a horrific BBC report earlier this year airing first-hand accounts of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture of female detainees.
In response to those revelations, the Australian government urged China to allow the United Nations into the area to investigate, with a spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Marise Payne slamming the "deeply disturbing" allegations against China.
The US has also spoken out against the detention of Uighurs, as have many nations around the globe.
In fact, in 2020, 39 countries condemned China's abuse of Uighurs, with German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen stating on behalf of the nations that, "We call on China to respect human rights, particularly the rights of persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities, especially in Xinjiang and Tibet."
The year before, chilling drone footage published online emerged which appeared to show hundreds of blindfolded and shackled Uighur Muslim men at a train station being transferred, presumably to detention camps, by Chinese police.
The Uighurs – also often spelled Uyghurs or Uygurs – are an ethnically and culturally Turkic people native to Central and East Asia.
They speak their own language, similar to Turkish, and the majority are Sunni Muslims.
There are estimated to be just over 12 million Uighurs living in Xinjiang, making up less than half of the population of the region following decades of mass migration of Han Chinese.
Around one million more Uighurs are spread out in countries including Kazakhstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan, as well as several thousand in Australia.
President Xi Jingping's 2014 crackdown against the Uighurs was widely seen as a response to the Kunming railway station attack which occurred earlier that year, in which eight knife-wielding Uighur separatists killed 31 innocent travellers and injured more than 140.
China also came under fire in 2019 for its response to Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, which saw regular, violent clashes between police and hundreds of thousands of activists for months on end in response to plans to allow the extradition of suspected criminals to mainland China.
The CCP responded by approving tough new national security laws last May in a bid to crush freedom in Hong Kong and seize control.
China has also long been criticised for its control over Tibet, with the "free Tibet" independence movement – supported by a slew of celebrities – calling for the separation of Tibet from China.
Campaigners have argued that Tibetans are denied certain human rights, although the CCP has rejected those allegations.
China has also been consistently slammed for its track record on LGBTQI rights, freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
According to Human Rights Watch's China 2020 report, "Chinese authorities' silencing of human rights defenders, journalists and activists, and restrictions on the internet, also make it difficult to obtain accurate information about Chinese government policies and actions".