By David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China may have committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in its western Xinjiang region, a bipartisan US congressional commission said in a report released Thursday. The Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) said new evidence had emerged last year that “crimes against humanity and possibly genocide are taking place.” The CECC also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the United States. China has been widely condemned for establishing complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to crack down on extremism and give people new skills that others have called concentration camps. The United Nations says at least one million Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained in Xinjiang. Religious leaders, activist groups and others have said that crimes against humanity are being committed there, including genocide. Beijing denies the abuse allegations. The CECC report called for a “formal determination by the United States as to whether atrocities are being committed” in Xinjiang, and such a determination is required within 90 days after the passage of US legislation on December 27. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in his final days in office before President-elect Joe Biden succeeds President Donald Trump on January 20, has already been weighing a determination, though given the current turmoil in Washington, officials have minimized the chance of an ad before that. CECC co-chair, Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern, called China’s actions to crush human rights in the past year as “shocking and unprecedented” and urged Congress and the incoming Biden administration to hold Beijing accountable. “The United States must continue to support the Chinese people in their struggle and lead the world in a united and coordinated response to the Chinese government’s human rights abuses,” he said. Relations between the world’s two biggest economic powers have plummeted to the lowest level in recent years over disagreements on issues including human rights, the coronavirus pandemic, trade, espionage, and a sweeping national security law imposed. in Hong Kong. Experts say that a genocide determination would be a huge embarrassment to China, the world’s second-largest economy and a permanent member of the UN Security Council. It could also pose problems for Biden by complicating his relations with Beijing, although his campaign had already declared, before the November elections, that a genocide was taking place in Xinjiang. In October, Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said that Beijing was perpetrating “something like” genocide in Xinjiang and other officials have referred to concentration camps there. Under international law, crimes against humanity are defined as widespread and systematic, while the burden of proof of genocide (the intention to destroy part of a population) may be more difficult to prove. Expectations that Pompeo might declare genocide arose in June when he called reports that China was using forced sterilization, forced abortion and coercive family planning against Muslims as “shocking” and “disturbing”. He was referring to a report last year on the situation in Xinjiang by German researcher Adrian Zenz, who also cites the CECC report. Zenz said his findings represent the strongest evidence yet that Beijing’s Xinjiang policies met one of the criteria cited in the UN genocide convention, namely, “imposing measures aimed at preventing births within the group (objective)”. A declaration of genocide by the United States would mean that countries would have to think hard about allowing companies to do business with Xinjiang, a leading global supplier of cotton. It would also increase pressure for the United States to impose more sanctions against China. On Wednesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the United States was imposing a regional ban on all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over allegations that detained Uighurs carry them out with forced labor.