The US State Department on Tuesday expressed deep concern over China's "worsening crackdown" on minority Muslims in the Xinjiang region, as the Trump administration considered sanctions against Chinese senior officials and companies linked to allegations of human rights abuses.
"We have a lot of tools at our disposal".
Bachelet's appeal for access came as New York-based Human Rights Watch said the Turkic Uighur minority faced arbitrary detentions, daily curbs on religious practice and "forced political indoctrination" in a mass security crackdown.
Citing unnamed current and former officials, the Times reported the administration has been discussing sanctions over the human rights issue for months at the White House, Treasury Department, and State Department.
Geng Shuang, China's foreign ministry spokesman, said that the government is trying to "promote stability, development, unity and livelihoods" while ending "ethnic separatism and violent terrorist criminal activities".More news: Nintendo to sell NES-style Switch wireless controllers to online service subscribers
In the report, HRW documents the increasing government control over the 13 million Muslims living in Xinjiang.
One of his most visible initiatives has been to build thousands of grid-style police checkpoints across Xinjiang, and human rights advocates have decried martial law conditions and mass DNA collection.
The country is accused of running re-education camps, where Uighurs are forced to renounce aspects of their religious beliefs and ostensibly learn about Chinese culture.
The letter mentions reports that as many as one million Uighurs are being held in detention centers, referred to as "re-education camps" across Xinjiang.
China, via its foreign ministry, responded dismissively to the Human Rights Watch report on Monday (transcript in Chinese, transcript in English), and rebuked the United Nations human rights chief's requests on Tuesday (transcript in Chinese, transcript in English).More news: U.S. Identifies Remains of Two Service Members Returned From North Korea
On Monday, the new United Nations Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet became the latest high profile worldwide figure to speak out against alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Last month, a United Nations human rights panel held a two-day session on China's policies in Xinjiang, and raised alarm over "credible reports" of that China had turned Xinjiang into "something resembling a massive internment camp, shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no-rights zone".
In May, Chinese state media said more than a million local Chinese Communist officials were being sent to live with local families in Xinjiang.
This would be one of the first times the administration would take action against China economically for mistreating Chinese Muslims.
The Chinese government has not yet commented on this particular report but has denied similar allegations of mistreatment in the past.More news: Apple Unveils New iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max and iPhone Xr