The New York Times has published four hundred pages of internal documents leaked from the Chinese Communist Party it says exposes Party directives behind the detention of as many as one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims.

Rights groups say Beijing is severely persecuting the mostly Muslim Uighurs in detention camps, and has accused Beijing of being behind a campaign of “disappearances”.

China calls the massive detention centres built in northwest China since 2017 as “vocational training centres” to combat extremism.

But the New York Times says the documents illustrate a calculated and coercive nature to the campaign.

They say the documents quote Chinese leader Xi Jinping telling party members to use the organs of dictatorship to show no mercy in the fight against terrorism and separatism in the Xinjiang region.

The region’s chief then instructs local officials to round up everyone who should be rounded up.

The newspaper says the information was shared by a member of China’s political establishment who wants to remain anonymous.

The United States has announced restrictions to visas for Chinese officials accused of involvement in the repression of Muslim populations, in October, and blacklisted 28 Chinese organisations it says are implicated in abuses against Uighurs in Xinjiang province.

The organisations blacklisted include government agencies and technology companies, that are now on a list barring them from buying from US companies without approval from Washington.

The US Commerce Department said the groups are implicated in “China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.”

Xinjiang province’s Public Security Bureau is on the list, along with 19 other smaller government agencies.

And US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Chinese government of a string of abuses against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz Muslims and other minority Muslim groups.

These included “mass detentions in internment camps; pervasive, high-tech surveillance; draconian controls on expressions of cultural and religious identities; and coercion of individuals to return from abroad to an often perilous fate in China”.

However Beijing dismissed the US allegations.

“There is no such thing as these so-called ‘human rights issues’ as claimed by the United States,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

“These accusations are nothing more than an excuse for the United States to deliberately interfere in China’s internal affairs.” /radionz