Australia and New Zealand on Tuesday welcomed sanctions by several western countries against China over its alleged abuse of the Uyghur Muslim minority.
China has been accused of discrimination against Uyghurs in its northwestern Xinjiang autonomous region.
Right groups say it has held up to a million Uyghurs in detention centers, which the state calls “re-education camps.”
On Jan. 19, on his last full day in office, then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China of committing genocide against the minority group.
The sanctions have been imposed as a coordinated effort by the EU, UK, US and Canada.
In a joint statement, New Zealand and Australian foreign ministers reiterated their grave concerns over the growing number of credible reports of severe human rights abuses against ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
“In particular, there is clear evidence of severe human rights abuses that include restrictions on freedom of religion, mass surveillance, large-scale extra-judicial detentions, as well as forced labor and forced birth control, including sterilization,” the statement read.
“New Zealand and Australia welcome the measures announced overnight by Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We share these countries’ deep concerns, which are held across New Zealand and Australian communities.”
The diplomats said they have consistently called on Beijing to respect the human rights of Uyghurs, and other religious and ethnic minorities.
“Today we underscore the importance of transparency and accountability, and reiterate our call on China to grant meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for United Nations experts, and other independent observers,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, Beijing has hit back with counter-sanctions on European parliamentarians, research scholars, and institutions for “maliciously spreading lies and disinformation.”