The US Department of the Treasury has announced sanctions against a paramilitary body that looks after several interests in northwest China's Xinjiang region, accusing it of "violations" against Uighurs and other members of Muslim minorities.

The ministry said it would freeze any assets in the United States belonging to the Production and Construction Commission in Xinjiang, which is affiliated with the Communist Party of China, and which operates its own facilities, universities and media in the region.

Washington, like other Western countries and several international organizations, is accusing Beijing of placing more than a million Muslim Uighurs and other minorities in "detention camps".

For its part, China denies this and confirms that it is vocational training centers, designed to help residents find work and keep them away from the threat of Islamic extremism.

The Treasury sanctions are also targeted by the former political commissioner of the paramilitary body, San Jinlong, and its leader, Ban Jiarui, who is also deputy secretary of the Communist Party.

The United States imposed other sanctions earlier this month on Chinese officials for "violations". Ware, then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urged China to respect its international human rights obligations.