China’s communist government is reportedly trying to control the birth rates among Uyghurs and other ethnic groups as part of a campaign to curb minority Muslim populations.
A report released by the Jamestown Foundation noted what it described as “another troubling aspect of state policy,” which is the suppression of birth rates among ethnic Uyghur communities.
The report said the move included the mass application of mandatory birth control and sterilizations directed by the authorities of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
It said that the project aims “to reduce the Uyghur population in Xinjiang relative to the numbers of ethnic Han Chinese, and … to promote more rapid Uyghur assimilation.”
Based on research in original Chinese-language source materials, Dr. Adrian Zenz, one of the world’s leading scholars on China, noted that Xinjiang is “engaged in severe human rights violations that meet the criteria for genocide.”
A separate investigation by the Associated Press revealed that the practice of forced birth control “is far more widespread and systematic than previously known.”
The AP report noted that the campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.”
It said that the state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands.
“It’s genocide, full stop. It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide,” said Joanne Smith Finley, who works at Newcastle University in the U.K told AP. “These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uyghur population.”
The AP investigation said the population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply.
It said that the result of the birth control campaign “is a climate of terror around having children.”
Birth rates in the mostly Uyghur regions of Hotan and Kashgar plunged by more than 60 percent from 2015 to 2018, the latest year available in government statistics.
Across the Xinjiang region, birth rates continue to plummet, falling nearly 24 percent last year alone — compared to just 4.2 percent nationwide, statistics show.
Zenz’s study noted that the millions of dollars the government poured into birth control has transformed Xinjiang from one of China’s fastest-growing regions to among its slowest in just a few years.
“This kind of drop is unprecedented … there’s a ruthlessness to it,” Zenz was quoted as saying. “This is part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uyghurs,” he added.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke out about the report’s findings.
“The United States condemns the use of forced population controls against Uyghur and other minority women and calls on the CCP to cease its campaign of repression. History will judge how we act today,” Pompeo said in a tweet.
In a statement, China’s foreign minister said the story as “fabricated” and “fake news.”
“Everyone, regardless of whether they’re an ethnic minority or Han Chinese, must follow and act in accordance with the law,” said ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian this week.
Chinese officials have said in the past that the new measures are merely meant to be fair, allowing both Han Chinese and ethnic minorities the same number of children.
China used to have one of the most extensive systems of minority entitlements in the world. Since 2014, under President Xi Jinping, the benefits were taken out.
From 2017, the Chinese authorities are thought to have rounded up between 1-3 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, detaining them in camps across the region in a bid to reshape their religious and political worldview.