A new report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that the birth rate among indigenous populations and ethnic minorities in Xinjiang has dropped dramatically in recent years, providing possible evidence of the Chinese government’s forced sterilization and birth control policies among those groups.
The report found that in April 2017, Chinese Communist Party officials in Xinjiang began “strike-hard” campaigns against “illegal births” with the main goal to “reduce and stabilise a moderate birth level” and lower the birth rate in southern Xinjiang by at least 4.00 per thousand from the levels in 2016. Before this move, there had been exceptions from family-planning efforts for indigenous nationalities.
The report stated, “The crackdown has led to an unprecedented and precipitous drop in official birth-rates in Xinjiang since 2017. The birth-rate across the region fell by nearly half (48.74 percent) in the two years between 2017 and 2019.” The most intense drops have occurred in places where Uyghurs and other indigenous people are located. Throughout counties that are populated by a majority of indigenous people, the birth rate dropped, on average, by 43.7% in one year between 2017 and 2018. The birth rate in counties populated by 90% or more indigenous people dropped by 56.5%, on average, in that same year.
The group found that in 2017, the Chinese government’s birth control method among minority nationalities changed from “reward and encourage” to a more intense control of reproduction. The report stated, “Hefty fines, disciplinary punishment, extrajudicial internment, or the threat of internment were introduced for any ‘illegal births.’ Family-planning officials in Xinjiang were told to carry out ‘early detection and early disposal of pregnant women found in violation of policy.’”
The group noted that the steep decline in birth rates in Xinjiang “is proportionally the most extreme over a two-year period globally since 1950. Despite notable contextual differences, this decline in birth-rate is more than double the rate of decline in Cambodia at the height of the Khmer Rouge genocide (1975-79).”
As reported by The Associated Press, “The ASPI report corroborates an AP story and a report by German researcher Adrian Zenz last year that found the Chinese government was systemically slashing Uyghur birthrates with sterilizations, abortions and intrauterine devices, and fining and detaining people with three or more children.”
The Chinese government has come under intense scrutiny and criticism from nations around the world over its human rights abuses against the Uyghur population in Xinjiang. The United States announced sanctions on officials in China over the human rights offenses taking place in the region.
In March, the first independent, non-governmental legal examination of China’s human rights offenses against the Uyghur population was conducted by Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy. The think tank found that the Chinese government is responsible for “committing genocide against the Uyghurs in breach of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”
As reported by The Daily Wire, the group found that there is evidence of “High-level statements of intent and general plan” from President Xi Jinping’s declaration of the “People’s War on Terror” focusing on a majority of Uyghur-populated regions, with top authorities then making commands to “round up everyone who should be rounded up,” and “wipe them out completely…destroy them root and branch.”
The specific acts in Article II of the Genocide Convention that the group found China guilty of violating include: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The Australian group called on the Chinese government to allow journalists, researchers, and human rights personnel to have full access to Xinjiang in order to carry out further research to see if the government is guilty of committing genocide.