Nineteen Eighty-Four 'coming to life' in China - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday likened China's treatment of more than one million Uighur Muslims to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four novel, saying the Communist Party was detaining and abusing them in internment camps.

Speaking at an American Association of Christian Counselors event in Nashville, Tennessee, Pompeo also said he wished the National Basketball Association (NBA) had acknowledged the situation in Xinjiang province.

NBA has been grappling with the backlash from a tweet by Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey last weekend in support of Hong Kong anti-government protests. Morey deleted his tweet but Chinese state media has characterised it as the latest example of West meddling in China's affairs.

"The Chinese Communist Party is detaining and abusing more than one million Uighur Muslims in internment camps in Xinjiang, the western region of China," Pompeo said. "The pages of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four are coming to life there. I wish the NBA would acknowledge that."

The China market is estimated to be worth more than US$4 billion for the NBA.

Nineteen Eighty-Four, published in 1949, tells the story of a man living in a dystopian future where the government controls all aspects of life. It's the source of many common phrases, including 'Big Brother', 'thoughtcrime', 'memory hole' and 'doublethink'. 

China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in remote Xinjiang that it describes as "vocational training centers" to stamp out extremism and give people new skills. The United Nations says at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has raised the issue with the Chinese leadership, but claims she "can't do much more than that".

Reuters / Newshub.