Birth rates decrease in Xinjiang, China denies forced sterilisation
Xinjiang sees 'unnatural' drop in birth rates, as China denies forced sterilisation of Uighur women
Birth rates in Muslim-majority Xinjiang have decreased in what critics are calling the outcome of a government-led forced sterilisation of Uighur women.
Beijing has denied accusations it is forcefully sterilising Uighur women in an attempt to control China's Muslim population, despite proof that birth rates in Xinjiang province - where the minority mostly live - have suddenly and rapidly decreased, according to an expert.
Chinese officials admitted that birth rates in Xinjiang dropped by nearly one third in 2018 compared to the previous year, but denied reports of forced sterilisation and genocide, a letter to the CNN states.
Earlier this year, CNN published a report by Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, who quoted Chinese documents saying that sterilisations in Xinjiang had gone from 50 per 100,000 people in 2016 to nearly 250 per 100,000 people in 2018.
According to the United Nations' definition of "genocide", forced sterilisations falls under this bracket.
The local Xinjiang administration, part of the Chinese communist government, denied claims of genocide and said the Uighur population has been "growing continuously".
It argued that the population grew by more than three million people between 2010 and 2018.
"The rights and interests of Uighur and other ethnic minorities have been fully protected," the response said.
"The so-called 'genocide' is pure nonsense."
China's response is at odds with witness testimony and expert statements which speak of forced labour camps in Xinjiang housing millions of Uighur Muslims.
US Congress has voted to ban imports of Chinese products made by "forced labour" in the Xinjiang region.
"The Chinese government is engaged in systematic abuses against the Uighur people" and other minorities, said Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection agency.
"Forced labour is an atrocious human rights abuse," he said.
The items include cotton, garments, hair products and electronics from five specific manufacturers in Xinjiang as well as adjacent Anhui.
"This is not a vocational centre, it is a concentration camp, a place where religious and ethnic minorities are subject to abuse and forced to work in heinous conditions with no recourse and no freedom," Cuccinelli told reporters last week.
"This is modern day slavery."
The Chinese government is 'lying'
The letter to CNN from the Chinese government argues that the sudden drop in population was due to family planning laws – which changed from one child to two-children in 2016 – having finally been properly implemented.
Read more: How Uighur women's bodies became a battleground for China's coercive population control
Among the minority rural population, the letter argued, such families up until 2017 were still having more than two children.
"In 2018, the number of newborns decreased by approximately 120,000 compared with 2017, of which about 80,000 were because of better implementation of family planning policy in accordance with law, according to estimates by the health and statistics department," the response to CNN stated.
Zenz argued that it would take years to see such changes in birth rates, and certainly not in a 12 to 36 months period, as the report reveals.
It is therefore unlikely that 17 times more women opted for sterilisation, especially given Uighur women's reluctance to use contraception, he said.
A growing number of disturbing accounts have come out of China detailing the abuse Uighur citizens face from the Chinese authorities.
A Uighur doctor recently revealed to ITV that she had been involved in government-sanctioned "population control measures” that included "forced contraception, forced abortion, forced sterilisation and forced removal of wombs".
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