President Donald Trump says he did not sanction Chinese officials further over the detention of Muslims in Xinjiang as he was in the "middle of a trade deal", APA reports citing BBC.
Mr Trump told the Axios news site that achieving a "great" deal meant he could not impose "additional sanctions".
China has held about a million Uighurs and other ethnic groups in camps in Xinjiang for indoctrination and punishment but denies mistreating them.
The issue arose after allegations in a book by ex-Trump aide John Bolton.
Mr Bolton had alleged that at a summit last year Mr Trump gave Chinese President Xi Jinping the green light on building the camps in its western region, with the US leader saying it was "exactly the right thing to do". Mr Trump denies the allegation.