China’s use of internment camps as part of a much maligned counterterrorism strategy is modeled on Western tactics, according to a Beijing-based diplomat.

“The relevant practices in China are no different from those in the U.K., France, and the U.S.,” Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told reporters. “We oppose double standards on counterterrorism.”

Chinese officials have cited the threat of terrorism to justify detaining hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims, as part of intense crackdown on the ethnic and religious minority. One of the top Communist officials recently defended the practice as a form of “de-extremization education,” but Western officials regard it as a human rights abuse unfolding on an industrial scale.

"They are all the active efforts we have made to prevent terrorism and eliminate extremism with the view to nipping the evil in the bud, curing the ‘sickness’ and saving people, doing our best to safeguard people's basic human rights, including their right to life and development, and protecting them from terrorism and extremism,” Hua said.

U.S. officials have put a spotlight on the Xinjiang camps in recent months, including lawmakers who want the president to impose sanctions on Communist Party officials involved in the repression.

“We believe that targeted sanctions will have an impact,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., wrote in an August letter signed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. “At a time when the Chinese government is seeking to expand its influence through the Belt and Road Initiative, the last thing China’s leaders want is international condemnation of their poor and abusive treatment of ethnic and religious minorities.”

China responded to the condemnation by claiming that the camps are “people-oriented” and provide the Uighurs with valuable linguistic and vocational training. “Through vocational training, most trainees have been able to reflect on their mistakes and see clearly the essence and harm of terrorism and religious extremism,” Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the Xinjiang region, told a state-run media outlet. “They have notably enhanced national consciousness, civil awareness, awareness of the rule of law, and the sense of community of the Chinese nation.”

Zakir claimed that one “trainee” praised the camp, saying “it has actively saved and assisted me,” but Western authorities are more convinced by the horror stories of how the regime propagates those lessons.

“The stated goal of the current campaign is to ‘Sinicize religion’ and ‘adapt religion to a socialist society,’ suggesting that Beijing wagers that it now possesses the political, diplomatic, and technological capabilities to transform religion and ethnicity in Chinese society in a way that its predecessors never could, even during the peak horrors of the Cultural Revolution and other heinous Maoist campaigns intended to remake Chinese society,” Ambassador Kelley Currie, the second-ranked U.S. diplomat at the United Nations, told lawmakers in July.

Hua called for balanced reporting on the topic. “We hope that friends from the media can refrain from listening to the one-sided story and view the efforts made by other countries to effectively prevent terrorism and fight extremism in accordance with law in an objective way,” she said.