At a news conference in Beijing on Monday, Shohrat Zakir, the chairman of the Xinjiang government, dismissed the congressional bill as “crude meddling in China’s internal affairs.”

He sought to foil the criticism by saying that the facilities — which Beijing calls vocational training centers — were now holding only people who were there voluntarily. Others who were previously in the facilities had “graduated,” he said, providing no specifics and declining to say whether they had been released…

Maya Wang, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch who has closely studied Xinjiang, said the party’s claims lacked credibility. “This comes from a government that pretty much lies about most reports coming from the region,” she said.

“If the Chinese government has indeed released people from the camps,” she added, “then it should allow independent observers, including from the United Nations, to enter the region without any kind of restrictions to see for themselves.”