China is angry Pope Francis described the country's Muslim Uighurs as "persecuted" in his new book.

The pope's remarks have "no factual basis," foreign ministry representative Zhao Lijian said.

Francis also wrote about persecuted Christians in Islamic nations.

He said he thinks of "persecuted peoples: the Rohingya, the poor Uighurs, the Yazidi."

During a conference in October at the Vatican, U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo criticized China for its ill treatment of the Muslim Uighurs.

China dismissed the accusations as an attempt to shame China, saying Uighurs camps were "vocational education and training facilities" and part of the government's counterterrorism and deradicalization program, Reuters reported.

Zhao said China had always protected the rights of China's ethnic minorities "equally."

In his new book "Let Us Dream" the pope listed the "poor Uighurs" as examples of people persecuted for their faith. The 150-page collaboration with English-language biographer Austen Ivereigh goes on sale Dec. 1.

Religious leaders and activist groups claim genocide is being conducted against the Uighur in China's Xinjiang region - where more than a million are held against their will in camps.

The pope has shied away from criticizing China for its clampdown on religious minorities, including Catholics, much to the disappointment of the U.S. and human rights advocates.

According to sources, the Vatican was unwilling to speak out on the Uighurs' plight because it was renewing an agreement with China on the selection of cardinals. The accord was renewed in September this year.