Another report of reproductive oppression in Xinjiang

Politics & Current Affairs

For the past year, international alarm over China’s abuse of Uyghurs has been heightened by reports of targeted birth control. A New York Times report confirms that even as birth restrictions have loosened in much of China, they have tightened and become more coercive for Muslims in Xinjiang.

Illustration by Derek Zheng

As China prepares to release its once-a-decade census results later this week, much attention will be paid to how the numbers reflect on at least two key questions:

The questions are closely related, because for nearly a year now since a groundbreaking Associated Press report in June 2020, China has been accused of “demographic genocide” as a key part of Beijing’s abuses against Uyghur Muslims.

  • That is, even as Beijing’s family planning policies have swung rapidly from birth restriction to birth promotion for Han Chinese, reports of forced birth control targeted at ethnic minority Muslims in the Xinjiang region have increased.
  • The AP report noted that in the Uyghur cultural centers of Hotan and Kashgar, birth rates had “plunged by more than 60% from 2015 to 2018.”
  • “Imposing measures intended to prevent births within” an ethnic group, with intent to destroy it in whole or in part, is one of the elements of genocide under international law.

More evidence of forced birth control in Xinjiang comes today from the New York Times:

  • The Times says that “interviews with more than a dozen Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim women and men from Xinjiang, as well as a review of official statistics, government notices and reports in the state-run media, depict a coercive effort by the Chinese Communist Party to control the community’s reproductive rights.”
  • According to interviews and government documents, ethnic minority women were threatened with detention in internment camps if they did not comply with orders to use IUDs or get sterilized.
  • “As they recuperated at home, government officials were sent to live with them to watch for signs of discontent.”
  • CNN has a report with more current details on the Communist Party’s live-in-cadre program for Uyghurs, which has previously been documented by The China Project’s Xinjiang columnist Darren Byler in ChinaFile.

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