Chinese birth control policies could reduce between 2.6 and 4.5 million births of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in southern Xinjiang within 20 years, up to a third of the projected minority population region, according to a new analysis by a German researcher.
The report, shared exclusively with Reuters ahead of its publication, also includes a cache of previously unreported research produced by Chinese academics and officials into Beijing’s intention behind birth control policies in Xinjiang, where official data shows that birth rates have already fallen by 48.7% between 2017 and 2019.
Adrian Zenz’s research comes as some Western countries increasingly call for an investigation into whether China’s actions in Xinjiang amount to genocide, a charge Beijing vehemently denies.
Zenz’s research is the first such peer-reviewed analysis of the long-term impact on people of Beijing’s multi-year crackdown in the western region. Rights groups, researchers and some residents say the policies include newly imposed birth limits on Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities, transfers of workers to other areas and the internment of around one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in a network of camps.
“This (research and analysis) really shows the intent behind the Chinese government’s long-term plan for the Uyghur people,” Zenz told Reuters.
The Chinese government has not made public any official targets for reducing the proportion of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. But based on analysis of official birth data, population projections, and ethnic ratios proposed by Chinese academics and officials, Zenz believes Beijing’s policies could increase the predominantly Han Chinese population in southern Xinjiang. at around 25%, compared to 8.4% currently.
“This goal is only achievable if they do what they did, which drastically suppresses (Uyghur) birth rates,” Zenz said.
China has previously said that the current decline in ethnic minority birth rates is due to the full implementation of existing birth quotas in the region as well as development factors, including an increase in per capita income and a greater access to family planning services.
“The so-called ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang is sheer nonsense,” China’s Foreign Ministry told Reuters in a statement. “It is a manifestation of the ulterior motives of anti-Chinese forces in the United States and the West and the manifestation of those who suffer from sinophobia.”
Official data showing declining birth rates in Xinjiang between 2017 and 2019 “does not reflect the real situation” and Uyghur birth rates remain higher than those of the Han ethnicity in Xinjiang, the ministry added.
The new research compares a population projection made by Xinjiang-based researchers for the government-run Chinese Academy of Sciences based on pre-crackdown data, official data on birth rates and what Beijing describes as “population optimization” measures for ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. introduced since 2017.
He revealed that the ethnic minority population in Uyghur-dominated southern Xinjiang would reach between 8.6 and 10.5 million by 2040 under new birth prevention policies. This compares to the 13.14 million projected by Chinese researchers using data prior to implemented birth policies and a current population of around 9.47 million.
Zenz, an independent researcher with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a bipartisan nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, has previously been condemned by Beijing for his research which criticized China’s policies on Uyghur detention, transfers labor force and birth reduction. in Xinjiang.
China’s Foreign Ministry accused Zenz of “fooling” people with data and, in response to questions from Reuters, said “his lies are not worth refuting.”
Zenz’s research was accepted for publication by the Central Asian Survey, a quarterly academic journal, after peer review on June 3.
Reuters shared the research and methodology with more than a dozen experts in population analysis, birth prevention policy and international human rights law, who said the analysis and conclusions were solid.
Some experts have warned that population projections over a period of decades can be affected by unforeseen factors. The Xinjiang government has not publicly set official targets for ethnic quotas or population size for the ethnic populations of southern Xinjiang, and the quotas used in the analysis are based on figures proposed by officials and Chinese academics.
“End Uyghur rule”
The decision to prevent births among Uyghurs and other minorities stands in stark contrast to China’s broader birth policies.
Beijing last week announced that married couples can have three children, up from two, the most significant policy change since the removal of the one-child policy in 2016 in response to China’s rapidly aging population. The ad did not contain any reference to specific ethnic groups.
Prior to that, the measures officially limited the country’s Han majority ethnic group and minority groups, including Uyghurs, to two children, three of them in rural areas. However, Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have historically been partially excluded from these birth limits under preferential policies designed to benefit minority communities.
Some residents, researchers and rights groups say the newly enforced rules now have a disproportionate impact on Islamic minorities, who risk detention for exceeding birth quotas, rather than fines like elsewhere in China.
In a leaked 2020 Communist Party file, also reported by Zenz, a re-education camp in Karakax County, southern Xinjiang, listed birth violations as grounds for internment in 149 out of the 484 cases detailed in the report. listing. China called the list “manufacturing”.
Birth quotas for ethnic minorities have been strictly enforced in Xinjiang since 2017, including through the separation of married couples and the use of sterilization procedures, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and abortions, three told Reuters. Uyghurs and a health official in Xinjiang.
Two of the Uyghurs said they had direct family members who were detained for having too many children. Reuters could not independently verify the detentions.
“It’s not up to you,” said the official, based in southern Xinjiang, who asked not to be named because he feared reprisals from the local government. “All Uyghurs must comply … it is an urgent task.”
The Xinjiang government did not respond to a request for comment on whether birth limits are more strictly enforced against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. Xinjiang officials previously said all procedures were voluntary.
Yet in Xinjiang counties where Uyghurs are the majority ethnic group, birth rates fell 50.1% in 2019, for example, compared to a 19.7% drop in predominantly Han ethnic counties, according to official data compiled by Zenz.
Zenz’s report states that analyzes released by academics and state-funded officials between 2014 and 2020 show that strict policy implementation is driven by national security concerns and is driven by a desire to dilute the law. Uyghur population, increase Han migration and strengthen loyalty to power. Communist Party.
For example, 15 documents created by academics and state-funded officials featured in the Zenz report include comments from Xinjiang officials and academics affiliated with the state referring to the need to increase the proportion of residents. Han and reducing the ratio of Uyghurs or describing the high concentration of Uyghurs. as a threat to social stability.
“The problem in southern Xinjiang is mainly the unbalanced structure of the population … the proportion of the Han population is too low,” Liu Yilei, academic and deputy general secretary of the Communist Party Committee of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, an organization government with administrative authority in the region, said at a July 2020 symposium posted on the Xinjiang University website.
Xinjiang must “end the domination of the Uyghur group,” Liao Zhaoyu, dean of the Institute of Frontier History and Geography at Xinjiang Tarim University, said at an academic event in 2015. time before birth policies and the broader internment program are fully implemented.
Liao did not respond to a request for comment. Liu could not be reached for comment. The Foreign Office did not comment on their remarks, nor the intent behind the policies.
THE INTENT TO DESTROY?
Zenz and other experts point to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which lists the prevention of births targeting an ethnic group as an act that can qualify as genocide.
The United States government and the parliaments of countries like Britain and Canada have called China’s policies of birth prevention and mass detention in Xinjiang genocide.
However, some academics and politicians say there is not enough evidence of Beijing’s intention to destroy an ethnic population in part or in whole to reach the threshold of a genocide determination.
No such formal criminal charges have been brought against Chinese or Xinjiang officials due to the lack of available evidence and information on policies in the region. Prosecuting officials would also be complex and require a high bar of proof.
In addition, China is not a party to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the highest international court that prosecutes genocide and other serious crimes, and which can only prosecute against states under its jurisdiction. .
(This story corrects a typo in the title)
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.