The group said in a report that Xinjiang's Muslim population of about 13 million has been subjected to "forced political indoctrination, collective punishment, restrictions on movement and communications, heightened religious restrictions, and mass surveillance in violation of global human rights law".
However, the New York Times report said discussions about how to deal with China over the abuses by White House, Treasury, and State Department officials, had been underway for months. "We're not going to preview any sanctions that may or may not happen", Nauert said.
"The Chinese are always opposed to the USA using the Xinjiang related issues to interfere in China-related affairs", Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press briefing.
"The Chinese government is committing human rights abuses in Xinjiang on a scale unseen in the country in decades".
But he said that various ethnic groups in the region have a common desire for social stability, and that the Chinese government guarantees freedom of faith based on law.
The letter mentions reports that as many as one million Uighurs are being held in detention centers, referred to as "re-education camps" across Xinjiang.
In the report, HRW documents the increasing government control over the 13 million Muslims living in Xinjiang.
QR codes are now being installed on the homes of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region in northwest China, according to a Human Rights Watch report released on Sunday.
Asked for his comment, Geng said Tuesday that "I want to add that the UN Human Rights High Commissioner and her office should abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, respect China's sovereignty, fairly and objectively fulfil its duties, and not listen to and believe one-sided information".
Astana, which shares a 1,000-kilometer border with Xinjiang, is trying to position itself as a key link in China's One Belt, One Road economic development initiative.
She voiced concern that 500 migrant children in the United States taken away from their parents have not yet been returned.
Last month, a United Nations rights panel said it had received credible reports that up to one million ethnic Uighurs may be held in extra-legal detention in Xinjiang, and called for them to be freed.
But the Chinese government strongly denied the figures, saying there was no mass imprisonment or "arbitrary detention".