The Boris Johnson government on Friday called on China to allow the United Nations unfettered access to Xinjiang following what it called “grave concerns about China’s policies against the Uighur Muslims” in the region.

Tariq Ahmad, foreign office minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth, said in a statement on China at the UN Human Rights Council that there is “compelling evidence of systemic human rights violations in Xinjiang”.

On Hong Kong, Ahmad described the UK’s deep concerns about the “direct threat” that Beijing’s new National Security Law allegedly represents to rights and freedoms in the Special Administrative Region, the foreign office said.

Ahmad said: “(Of) grave concern, in Xinjiang, there is compelling evidence – including from the Chinese authorities’ own documents – of systematic human rights violations. Culture and religion are severely restricted, and we have seen credible reports of forced labour and forced birth control. Staggeringly, up to 1.8 million people have been detained without trial”.

He added: “Across the country, we also remain seriously concerned about the pressure on media freedom…(We) call on China to uphold the rights and freedoms in the Joint Declaration, to respect the independence of the Hong Kong judiciary, allow unfettered access to Xinjiang and to release all those who are arbitrarily detained”.

Ahmad said Beijing’s imposition of the National Security Law amounts to a serious breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration, allegedly violating Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and directly threatens rights and freedoms.

“The National Security Law is being implemented with the apparent intention to eliminate dissent. It allows prosecution of certain cases in mainland China, a jurisdiction where defendants are often held for long periods without charge or access to legal counsel, and where we have concerns about judicial independence, due process, and reports of torture”, he told the council.