The US has said it will impose visa restrictions on Chinese officials accused of involvement in repression of Muslim populations.
The State Department said it would not issue visas to Chinese government and Communist Party officials believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, mass detentions and abuses in western Xinjiang.
Lawmakers have specifically asked for action against Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party chief for Xinjiang.
Reputed within the party for his handling of minority groups, he earlier led attempts to crush dissent in Tibet.
China voiced anger at the move, denying any human rights abuses in Xinjiang and accusing the United States of using “made-up pretexts for its interference.”
“The counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang are aimed to eradicate the breeding soil of extremism and terrorism,” the Chinese embassy in Washington said on Twitter.
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday “these accusations are nothing more than an excuse for the United States to deliberately interfere in China’s internal affairs.”
China has been carrying out a massive security operation in Xinjiang, in its far west, in recent years.
Human rights groups and the UN say China has rounded up and detained more than a million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in vast detention camps, where they are forced to renounce Islam, speak only in Mandarin Chinese and learn obedience to the communist government.
But China says they are attending “vocational training centres” which are giving them jobs and helping them integrate into Chinese society, in the name of preventing terrorism.