Chinese birth-control policies in Xinjiang could reduce its ethnic minority population by up to a third over the next 20 years, a new study shows.
The peer-reviewed academic paper by German researcher Adrian Zenz is the first such study on the long-term population impact of China’s crackdown on the Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang.
The analysis concluded that China’s regional policies could cut between 2.6 and 4.5 million minority births in that time.
Western nations have accused China of genocide in Xinjiang partly through forced birth-control measures which the latter strongly denies; saying birth-rate declines have other causes.
The study found that under China’s birth-control policies, the population of ethnic minorities in southern Xinjiang would reach somewhere between 8.6 and 10.5 million by 2040, compared to 13.1 million projected by Chinese researchers before Beijing’s crackdown.
“This [research and analysis]really shows the intent behind the Chinese government’s long-term plan for the Uyghur population,” Mr. Zenz told the Reuters news agency, which first reported the study.
In his report, Mr. Zenz writes that by 2019 Xinjiang authorities “planned to subject at least 80% of women of childbearing age in the rural southern four minority prefectures to intrusive birth prevention surgeries, referring to IUDs or sterilisations”.
Experts believe that China has detained at least a million Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang, and the government faces accusations of attempting to reduce and assimilate the minority Muslim population there.
Reports also say authorities have intentionally moved people from the mainstream Han Chinese population into parts of Xinjiang previously dominated by ethnic minorities, and forcibly transferred Uyghurs out.
According to Mr. Zenz’s research, China’s birth-control policies could increase the Han population in southern Xinjiang – where the Uyghur population is concentrated – from its current level of 8.4% to about 25% by 2040.
According to official Chinese statistics, there was a 48.7% decline in birth rates in ethnic minority areas of Xinjiang between 2017 and 2019.
China announced last week that it would allow couples to have up to three children, after census data showed a steep decline in national birth rates. But leaked documents and testimony from Xinjiang suggest an opposite policy is being pursued there, with women detained or otherwise punished for exceeding birth-control quotas.
A previous report by Mr. Zenz based on regional data, policy documents and testimony alleged that pregnant Uyghur women in Xinjiang were being threatened with internment for refusing to abort pregnancies, while others were involuntarily fitted with intra-uterine devices or coerced into sterilisation surgery.
China denies making any attempt to reduce the Uyghur population specifically, arguing that the decline in minority birth rates in Xinjiang is due to the implementation of general birth quotas in the region as well as increases in income and better access to family planning.
“The so-called ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang is pure nonsense,” China’s Foreign Ministry told Reuters in a statement.
Reuters said it had shared Mr. Zenz new research and methodology with more than a dozen experts in population analysis, birth prevention policies and international human rights law, who told the news agency the analysis and conclusions were sound. (Source: BBC)