July 21 (UPI) -- China is defending its governance of the Xinjiang region with a new white paper, amid controversy over Beijing's treatment of Uighurs, the Muslim minority in western China.
China's state council information office published the new white paper on Sunday concerning the "Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region," Xinhua news agency reported.
According to the white paper, Xinjiang has long been part of the Chinese nation.
The paper also claimed "hostile forces inside China, especially separatists, religious extremists and terrorists, are fabricating facts and distorting history in order to divide and destroy China."
Last week U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the detention of Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities was Beijing's way of controlling the "lives of the Chinese people and their souls."
Pompeo also said China's treatment of Uighurs is "one of the worst human rights crises of our time."
Members of the Turkic Muslim ethnic group are being held in a network of extrajudicial camps in Xinjiang, according to multiple press reports. Foreign journalists who have ventured into the region say they are monitored by authorities who prevent them from accessing the local population.
On Sunday in its white paper, Beijing said Xinjiang, an "integral" part of China, has recently been the site of religious extremism, a trend that follows the rise of extremism around the world that has led to "terror and violence."
"The fight against terror and extremism in Xinjiang is the fight of justice and civilization, against the forces of evil and barbarism," the white paper read.
The Chinese government also charged other countries and international organizations of holding Chinese policy to a "double standard."
The South China Morning Post reported Sunday the white paper also suggested Islam was not a religion the Uighurs adopted by choice.
"The Uighur people adopted Islam not of their own volition ... but had it forced upon them by religious wars and the ruling class," the Chinese document said, according to the report.