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China is forcing ethnic minority women in its Xinjiang province to take birth control, get IUDs, and abort the unborn on a scale that has sent birthrates plummeting by over 80% in three years in some regions.
Xinjiang is home to much of China’s ethnic-minority, Muslim populations such as the Uighurs and Kazakhs. According to a new report from The Jamestown Foundation, Chinese government documents and data show what one expert called a “creeping genocide” taking place across the province as Beijing enforces strict population control. The research was first reported by The Associated Press.
“Natural population growth in Xinjiang has declined dramatically; growth rates fell by 84 percent in the two largest Uyghur prefectures between 2015 and 2018, and declined further in 2019. For 2020, one Uyghur region set an unprecedented near-zero population growth target: a mere 1.05 per [thousand], compared to an already low 11.45 per [thousand] in 2018. This was intended to be achieved through ‘family planning work,’” the report states.
“It’s genocide, full stop. It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide,” Joanne Smith Finley, a university lecturer in the United Kingdom who specializes in the Xinjiang region, told the AP. “These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uighur population.”
China has had laws capping the number of children a couple is allowed to have for decades, but newly revealed government documents and data show that the Chinese Communist Party has recently launched an aggressive, targeted enforcement of childbearing laws on Xinjiang’s Uighurs and other minorities. At the same time, Chinese officials have relaxed enforcement of childbearing laws on Han Chinese, the largest ethnic group in China.
“It links back to China’s long history of dabbling in eugenics … you don’t want people who are poorly educated, marginal minorities breeding quickly,” James Leibold, a La Trobe University scholar of Chinese ethnic policy-making, told the AP. “What you want is your educated Han to increase their birth rate.”
Chinese officials threaten couples, and women in particular, who have more than two children with hefty fines, or, if they can not pay, lengthy sentences in one of the region’s many internment camps that Beijing says are used for “reeducation.” Inside the camps, women are subjected to pregnancy tests and injected with unknown chemicals that affect their periods. Some women who have escaped from China report that they were infertile after the treatments.
The camps reportedly hold over 1 million Uighurs on a variety of charges made by the Chinese government. The Trump administration is weighing whether to take action against China over the camps. President Trump signed a bill on June 17 to potentially sanction China over its numerous human rights abuses.
Beijing reacted strongly against the bill’s signing, threatening the United States with “consequences” should the Trump administration move forward with sanctions.
“We again urge the U.S. side to immediately correct its mistakes and stop using this Xinjiang-related law to harm China’s interests and interfere in China’s internal affairs,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Otherwise, China will resolutely take countermeasures, and all the consequences arising therefrom must be fully borne by the United States.”
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