China is subjecting hundreds of thousands of Uyghur and other ethnic minority women to forced birth control methods — or even mandatory abortions — as part of the government’s campaign to slash birth rates among the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other minority groups, according to a report published Monday.
A report by Adrian Zenz, a German researcher who has exposed China’s policies in Xinjiang, says Uyghur women, among other ethnic minorities, are being threatened with internment in the camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas.
Zenz’s data-driven work – which uses public documents found by scouring China’s internet – on the camps has previously been cited by experts on a UN panel investigating the facilities.
Women who had fewer than the legally permitted limit of two children were involuntarily fitted with IUDs, says the report.
It also reports that some of the women said they were being coerced into receiving sterilisation surgeries.
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.”
The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks and forces intrauterine devices, sterilisation and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the report claims. Even while the use of IUDs and sterilisation has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang.
The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps.
China called the allegations baseless but the United States demanded an immediate end to the campaign described in the report, which was based on a combination of official regional data, policy documents and interviews with ethnic minority women.
China’s foreign ministry said the allegations were “baseless” and showed “ulterior motives.”
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian blasted media outlets for “cooking up false information on Xinjiang-related issues,” saying at a regular press briefing that Xinjiang is “harmonious and stable.”
But government documents studied by Zenz also showed that women in some rural minority communities in the region received frequent mandatory gynaecological exams and bi-monthly pregnancy tests from local health officials.
Zenz found that population growth in Xinjiang counties predominantly home to ethnic minorities fell below the average growth in primarily Han majority counties between 2017 and 2018, a year after the officially recorded rate of sterilisations in the region sharply overtook the national rate in 2016.
China appears to be using coercive birth control in Xinjiang as part of a “wider game plan of ethno-racial domination,” Zenz wrote in the report.
“These findings raise serious concerns as to whether Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang represent, in fundamental respects, what might be characterised as a demographic campaign of genocide” under UN definitions, Zenz said in the report.
The US State Department called the campaign “reminiscent of the abuses against members of ethnic and religious minority groups throughout the 20th century.”
“We call on the Chinese Communist Party to immediately end these horrific practices and ask all nations to join the United States in demanding an end to these dehumanising abuses,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a frequent critic of Beijing, said in a statement.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a group of North American, European and Australian members of parliament from a range of political parties, said in a statement it would push for a legal investigation on “whether or not crimes against humanity or genocide have taken place” in Xinjiang.
IPAC was formed in June with a stated mission of standing up against “challenges posed by the present conduct and future ambitions of the People’s Republic of China.”
China is accused of locking more than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in re-education camps. Beijing describes the facilities as job training centres aimed at steering people away from terrorism following a spate of violence blamed on separatists.
Uyghur activists say China is using the internment camps to conduct a massive brainwashing campaign aimed at eradicating their distinct culture and Islamic identity. (Source: CNA)