China in a rare public display before a United Nations panel on Monday denied that it's detaining up to a million Muslim Uighurs in its Xinjiang province, the Wall Street Journal reported.
A senior Chinese official told the U.N. panel on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that it was “completely untrue” that 1 million Muslim ethnic minorities were being held, according to the Journal.
The official disputed the nature of the camps, saying they were vocational schools for “criminals involved only in minor offenses” to aid their reintegration into society.
The camps are referred to as “re-education centers” in government documents.
The official did not provide an alternative number, according to the report.
Though China denied that the camps were for re-education purposes, the BBC reported that Chinese officials admitted that “those deceived by religious extremism ... shall be assisted by resettlement and re-education.”
The UN said Friday that it had credible reports that as many as 2 million Uighurs were being detained by the Chinese government in re-education camps in Xinjiang, sparking controversy over the weekend.
“We are deeply concerned at the many numerous and credible reports that we have received that in the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability (China) has changed the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internship camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of ‘no rights zone,'" Gay McDougall, a member of the U.N. committee, said Friday, according to Reuters.