China’s policy may reduce millions of Uyghur births in Xinjiang: report

Beijing-According to a new analysis by German researchers, China’s family planning policy can reduce the number of births of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in southern Xinjiang to between 260,000 and 4.5 million within 20 years, accounting for 3% of the estimated ethnic minority population in the region. One part.

The report was exclusively shared with Reuters before its release. It also included a previously unreported study by Chinese scholars and officials on Beijing’s intentions behind the implementation of the family planning policy in Xinjiang. Official data showed that Xinjiang’s birth rate had dropped by 48.7. %. 2017 and 2019.

Adrian Zenz’s research was conducted amid increasing calls from some Western countries to investigate whether China’s actions in Xinjiang constituted genocide, and Beijing strongly denies this accusation.

Zenz’s research is the first peer-reviewed analysis of the long-term effects of Beijing’s years of repression on the population in the western region. Human rights organizations, researchers, and some residents stated that these policies include imposing new birth restrictions on Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim minorities, transferring workers to other areas, and imprisoning approximately 1 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in one place. In the camp network.

“This (research and analysis) really shows the intention behind the Chinese government’s long-term plan for the Uyghur population,” Zengzi told Reuters.

The Chinese government has not disclosed any official targets to reduce the proportion of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. However, based on the analysis of official birth data, population forecasts, and ethnic proportions proposed by Chinese scholars and officials, Zengzi estimates that Beijing’s policies may increase the Han population in southern Xinjiang from the current 8.4% to about 25%.

“This goal can only be achieved when they do what they have been doing, which greatly suppresses the (Uyghur) birth rate,” Zengzi said.

China has previously stated that the current decline in the birth rate of ethnic minorities is due to the full implementation of existing birth quotas in the region and development factors, including an increase in per capita income and wider family planning services.

“The so-called’genocide’ in Xinjiang is pure nonsense,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Reuters in a statement. “This is a manifestation of the ulterior motives of the anti-China forces in the United States and the West, and it is also a manifestation of these anti-China forces.” People with China fear. “

Official data show that the decline in Xinjiang’s birth rate from 2017 to 2019 “does not reflect the real situation,” and the Uyghur birth rate is still higher than the Han population in Xinjiang, the ministry added.

The new study compares the population projections made by Xinjiang researchers based on data before the crackdown for the government-run Chinese Academy of Sciences with official data on birth rates, and the “population optimization” measures described by Beijing for ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. Launched in 2017.

The study found that under the new birth prevention policy, by 2040, the Uyghur minority population in southern Xinjiang will reach 8.6-10.5 million. In contrast, Chinese researchers used data before the implementation of the birth policy to predict 13.14 million, and the current population is about 9.47 million.

Zenz is an independent researcher at the Memorial Foundation for the Victims of Communism, a bipartisan non-profit organization based in Washington, DC. He has previously been condemned by Beijing for his research criticizing China’s policies on detention of Uyghurs, large-scale labor transfer, and birth reduction. Xinjiang.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Zengzi of “misleading” people with data, and said in response to a question from Reuters that “his lies are not worth refuting.”

Zenz’s research was accepted for publication by the quarterly journal “Central Asia Survey” after peer review on June 3.

Reuters shared research and methods with more than a dozen experts in population analysis, birth prevention policies, and international human rights law. They said the analysis and conclusions are reasonable.

Some experts warn that population forecasts for the next few decades may be affected by unforeseen factors. The Xinjiang government has not publicly set an official ethnic quota or population size target for the minority population in southern Xinjiang. The quota used in the analysis is based on figures proposed by Chinese officials and academia.

‘End Uyghur rule’

Measures to prevent Uighurs and other ethnic minorities from giving birth are in stark contrast to China’s broader birth policies.

Last week, Beijing announced that married couples can have three children instead of two. This is the largest such policy change since the one-child policy was cancelled in 2016 due to China’s rapidly aging population. The announcement did not mention any specific ethnic group.

Prior to this, the measures formally restricted China’s majority Han and ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs, to two children-three in rural areas. However, Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have historically been partially excluded from these birth restrictions as part of preferential policies aimed at benefiting ethnic minority communities.

Some residents, researchers and rights organizations said that the newly implemented rules now have a disproportionate impact on Islamic minorities, who face detention for exceeding birth quotas instead of being fined as in other parts of China.

In a Communist Party record leaked in 2020, Zenz also reported that a re-education camp in Karakash County in southern Xinjiang listed birth violations as a reason for detention, of which 484 were listed in detail among 149 of the list. China called this list “fabricated.”

Three Uighurs and a health official in Xinjiang told Reuters that since 2017, Xinjiang has strictly enforced minority birth quotas, including separation of husband and wife, use of sterilization procedures, intrauterine device (IUD) and abortion.

Two Uighurs said they have immediate family members and were detained because of too many children. Reuters was unable to independently verify the detention.

“It was not my choice,” said the official from southern Xinjiang, who declined to be named because they feared retaliation from the local government. “All Uighurs must obey… This is an urgent task.”

The Xinjiang government did not respond to requests for comment on whether to impose stricter birth restrictions on Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. Xinjiang officials have previously stated that all procedures are voluntary.

Nonetheless, according to official data compiled by Zenz, in Xinjiang counties, which are dominated by Uyghurs, the birth rate dropped by 50.1% in 2019, while the Han majority counties dropped by 19.7%.

According to the Zenz report, the analysis published by state-sponsored scholars and officials between 2014 and 2020 shows that strict implementation of these policies is based on national security considerations, and the motivation is to dilute the Uyghur population, increase Han immigration, and improve governance. loyalty. Communist Party.

For example, the 15 documents created by state-sponsored scholars and officials shown in the Zenz report include comments from Xinjiang officials and state-affiliated scholars, mentioning the need to increase the proportion of Han residents and reduce the proportion of Uyghurs or describe Uyghurs. High concentration as a threat to social stability.

“The main problem in southern Xinjiang is the imbalance of the population structure…the proportion of the Han population is too low,” said Liu Yilei, deputy secretary of the party committee, scholar, and deputy secretary of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. In the July 2020 seminar published on the Xinjiang University website, the head of the administrative department in the region stated.

Xinjiang must “end the rule of the Uyghur ethnic group,” Liao Zhaoyu, director of the Institute of Borderland History and Geography of Xinjiang Tarim University, said at an academic event in 2015, shortly before the full implementation of the fertility policy and wider detention program.

Liao did not respond to a request for comment. Liu could not be reached for comment. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not comment on the intent behind their remarks or policies.

Intent to destroy?

Zenz and other experts pointed to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which listed fertility prevention against a certain ethnic group as an act that might constitute genocide.

The U.S. government and the parliaments of countries including the United Kingdom and Canada described China’s policies on childbirth prevention and mass detention in Xinjiang as genocide.

However, some scholars and politicians have stated that there is insufficient evidence that Beijing intends to partially or completely eliminate ethnic minorities in order to meet the threshold of a genocide decision.

Due to the lack of available evidence and insight about policies in the region, no such formal criminal charges were brought against Chinese or Xinjiang officials.

Prosecuting officials is also complicated and requires high standards of evidence.

In addition, China is not a party to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the highest international court that prosecutes genocide and other serious crimes. The court can only initiate proceedings against countries within its jurisdiction.

(Reporting by Kate Cardel; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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