A new report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute reveals chilling evidence of the Chinese Communist Party’s genocide of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang, China. One key — and chilling — finding is that between 2019-2020, Uyghur and other minority-concentrated areas saw birth rates plummet 50 percent or more within those two years.
As the report points out, “The Chinese Communist Party has a long history of state-directed demographic engineering” in the name of “family planning.” For example, between 1979 and 2015, the CCP imposed a “One-Child” policy on the Chinese population, limiting Chinese couples to a single child. The policy was deeply unpopular and brutally enforced — forced abortion, sterilization, and hefty fines were standard punishments for couples who violated the government mandate.
Curiously, the CCP targeted its policy mostly at Han Chinese, the largest ethnic group in China representing more than 90 percent of China’s population, while permitting ethnic minority couples in China to have more than one child during this period.
Even as the CCP patted its own back for successfully preventing more than 400 million births, it eventually realized by 2014 that the “One-Child” policy caused a looming population crisis. China now faces an imbalance between the two sexes — men outnumber women by 33 million, which has driven human trafficking of women and girls from neighboring countries.
Indeed, the Chinese population is aging fast while its workforce has begun to decline. China’s most recent census shows that, compared to a decade ago, China’s workforce dropped 7 percent to 63.3 percent, while those 60 and older rose 5.4 percent to almost 20 percent.
As its large pool of young and affordable workers were the key drivers of its three decades of breakneck economic growth, a shrinking workforce and an aging population pose severe challenges for China. Without that demographic advantage, China’s economic growth has slowed just as the government strives to keep its economy expanding enough to prevent its middle class from demanding a level of political freedom matching their newfound wealth.
An aging population is poised to complicate CCP leader Xi Jinping’s plan to build a Sino-centric new world order, forcing Xi’s government to allocate more national resources to elder care and social services.
Using Fear to Justify Evil
In 2015, the CCP tried to fix these demographic challenges by relaxing the “One-Child” policy, allowing Chinese couples to have two children. Ironically, however, as the Chinese government now encourages Han women to have more babies, it has taken a drastically different approach to minorities, especially Uyghur Muslims living in Xinjiang.
CCP leaders have long been concerned that Xinjiang’s geographic location and the Uyghurs’ culture and ethnic connection to Russia and central Asia would make Xinjiang an easy access point for foreign powers. As such, CCP’s Xi decided the Uyghurs must come under complete control of the central government.
The ASPI report shows the CCP regarded changing the ethnic structure of Xinjiang’s population as imperative to confront “terrorism” and maintain stability in the region. Thus, the party has tried to lure Han Chinese to Xinjiang and enforced strict “family planning” to control the population growth of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in the region.
At the start, CCP officials eliminated all preferential births for minorities. Instead, they implemented a new family planning policy in Xinjiang, which stated that all families with urban household registration are permitted two children regardless of ethnicity. In comparison, those in rural areas are permitted (in theory) to have three children. This new policy provided officials with a legal basis to crack down on so-called “illegal birth” — a birth that exceeds the government quota.
‘Never Tolerate, Nor Soften’
Since 2017, the CCP instructed local family-planning officials in Xinjiang to conduct a series of “strike-hard campaigns” to reduce “illegal births” among Uyghur Muslims and other minority households across the region. Officials warned anyone who exceeded central government’s family-planning guidelines must be “punished and punished resolutely … never tolerate, nor soften.”
The tactics local officials deployed throughout their “strike hard campaigns” included: urging “violators” to come forward with self-confession, setting up a hotline and offering a 500 RMB ($75 USD) reward for anyone to report illegal births, visiting women of childbearing age monthly to ensure they’re not pregnant, and “encouraging” women of childbearing age to pursue “long-term birth control measures” such as the insertion of intrauterine devices (IUDs), tubal ligation surgery, sterilization rings, and other forms of birth controls. Officials designated women who accepted these “long-term birth control measures” as “trustworthy citizens.”
One of the enforcement tools local officials often rely on is to impose a hefty fine on families who gave “illegal” birth. For example, ASPI researchers uncovered that in Chapchal County, where close to 70 percent of the population are Uyghurs, local officials collected nearly US$1 million in fines for 629 cases of “illegal childbirth” over four months in late 2017. As a result, the county’s birth rate dropped 50 percent from 2017 to 2019.
ASPI researchers also learned that violations of family-planning regulations or the failure to pay related fines had been the most frequently cited reason for the detention of Uyghurs and other minorities in re-education facilities. For instance, in Cherchen County, where Uyghur Muslims and other minorities make up about 73 percent of the population, local officials received explicit instructions to arrest women who have given birth to more than two children and send them to re-education camps, even after collecting fines.
The CCP’s cruel “family-planning” campaigns in Xinjiang have been very effective. Based on publicly available population data in China, ASPI researchers found that across the 29 counties in Xinjiang with predominantly minority populations, the birth rate in 2019-2020 has fallen by 58.5 percent from the 2011-2015 baseline average. “In those counties that are over 90 percent indigenous, the birth rate fell at an even greater rate, showing a 66.3 percent decrease in 2019-2020.”
A Moral Responsibility to Act
ASPI researcher and co-author of the report Nathan Ruser notes the magnitude of the birth rate decline in Xinjiang is unprecedented since the United Nations started collecting population data more than seven decades ago. Even countries such as Rwanda and Cambodia that experienced genocides or countries such as Syria that experienced brutal civil wars haven’t encountered such a severe birth-rate decline as that witnessed in Xinjiang.
While CCP officials bear down on minority births, China’s policy advisers urged the CCP leadership to “increase the fertility rate” and “vigorously encourage childbirth” to address the nation’s looming population crisis of shrinking labor force and aging population. CCP leaders seem to heed such recommendations.
For example, Premier Li Keqiang stated at the opening of the National People’s Congress in March this year that the CCP would “work to achieve an appropriate birth rate.” Additionally, the Global Times state media speculated that the Chinese government might lift restrictions on births and even implement preferential policies for prospective mothers later this year. But Uyghur mothers in Xinjiang shouldn’t expect any relief.
The ASPI’s report shows that CCP officials and state media don’t see the irony that the attack on minority births in Xinjiang stands in stark contrast to the CCP’s increasing willingness to relax population policy for the rest of China.
Instead, these Chinese officials and state media defend the government’s population policies through eugenic lenses, claiming the previously high birth rates of Uyghur Muslims were the result of “religious extremism” and “old childbearing concepts and cognition.” They argue that lowering the birth rate in Xinjiang is necessary to “optimize” population structure in the region, as reducing the birth rate would result in fewer “low-quality” births and gradually lift the “bio-quality” of the population in the area.
Earlier this year, China’s Embassy in the United States tweeted that Uyghur women in Xinjiang have been “emancipated,” and are “no longer baby-making machines.” After a worldwide outcry, the tweet was deleted.
The United Nations defines ”genocide” as any acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” including “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.” By this definition, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated the CCP’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang a “genocide.” Current Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed with the “genocide” designation in his Senate confirmation hearing, but walked back from it after President Biden dismissed the CCP’s “genocide” against Uyghurs as different “cultural norms.”
President Biden often talks about reasserting America’s values on the world stage. He needs to act now. The evidence of the CCP’s genocide against Uyghurs is piling up, including this latest revelation.
As the leader of the free world, Biden bears a grave, moral responsibility to speak against such atrocities and lead other nations to hold the CCP accountable for its actions. Otherwise, to quote a popular phrase from the left, President Biden and his administration will find themselves “on the wrong side of the history.”