An Australian think tank released a report on the declining birth rates among the Uyghur population in China’s western Xinjiang province, concluding that China’s birth-control policies imposed on the Uyghurs may constitute genocide.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) analyzed the publicly-available data on birthrates in China from 2011 to 2019, and found that birth rates among the Uyghur ethnic minority dropped precipitously starting in 2017. The birth rate fell by almost half in the predominately Uyghur and minority population regions in Xinjiang, where China’s “one child policy” is being strictly enforced. The policy started during the administration of Deng Xiaoping in 1979 as a way to combat over-population, but has since been loosened for Han families, who are native to the eastern half of the country and represent the ethnic majority in China.
While the Chinese government argues that it has a uniform family-planning approach nationwide, ASPI’s report showed that the policies are being applied in a discriminatory fashion against Uyghurs and other religious and ethnic minority groups. China pushed back against the report, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying calling the report an “anti-China narrative” that deliberately mischaracterizes the evidence. She asserted that over the last 40 years the Uyghur population had more than doubled from 5.5 million to over 12 million, and said that targeted birth rates were “simply non-existent.”
ASPI concluded its report, which was released Wednesday, by noting that the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide prohibits states from imposing measures intended to limit the birth rate within a group, calling it a physical aspect of genocide. It stated that China’s policies in Xinjiang may constitute genocide against the Uyghurs, and urged the Chinese government to provide more data and details to researchers.