A day after China released demographic data from its new census, a new report from an Australian think tank found that fertility rates in Xinjiang have plunged by nearly 50 percent in recent years. Scholars analyze that this dramatic decline in fertility rates is unprecedented in recent human history and that the Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang qualify as genocide.
Xinjiang’s Fertility Rate Has Fallen Dramatically
A new report released May 12 by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), an Australian think tank, found that the decline in fertility in China’s Xinjiang region between 2017 and 2019 is the largest in recent human history, surpassing fertility declines during the Syrian civil war, Rwanda and the Cambodian genocide.
Using publicly available data from the Chinese government, this institute tallied national birth rate data from 2011 to 2019, then analyzed trends across ethnic groups and spatial regions within the Xinjiang Autonomous Region before and after the Chinese government began its massive crackdown there in 2016.
The study finds that the birth rate in Xinjiang has fallen sharply since April 2017, after the Chinese Communist Party implemented a series of strong birth control measures in the region, reducing the birth rate by nearly half, or about 48.74 percent, between 2017 and 2019.
Further analysis by the investigators found that the areas where fertility rates plummeted were mainly in predominantly Uyghur and ethnic minority communities. Between 2017 and 18, birth rates in local counties fell by an average of 43.7 percent; however, in towns with more than 90 percent ethnic minorities, birth rates fell by an average of 56.5 percent.
Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy Research and one of the report’s co-authors, said this extreme decline in fertility is unprecedented since the United Nations began collecting global fertility data 71 years ago.
Where are the children of Xinjiang going?
“We must emphasize that genocide is not limited to mass killings; it takes other forms of destroying a race, such as limiting the ability to reproduce, breaking up children and families, and making it impossible for the group to live and pass on in a coherent way as a group …… What is happening in Xinjiang is a good example .” Beth Van Schaack, a scholar at Stanford University’s Center for Human Rights and International Justice, told a hearing of the U.S. Congress-affiliated Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on December 12. “China has used its control of international organizations in recent years to retell the narrative and embellish the facts about the concentration camps and the separation of minority families with names like so-called ‘re-education camps’ and ‘boarding schools.’ “
The report notes that in 2017, the Chinese government shifted its birth control policy for ethnic minorities from “incentives and encouragement” to a more coercive and intrusive birth policy, including severe punishment, disciplinary action, or the threat of detention for “violating the policy. threats of detention.
The report also notes that while Beijing claims that China’s fertility policy is “non-discriminatory,” analysis of the data reveals that the policy is discriminatory. While the Chinese government is imposing birth control in Xinjiang to reduce birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities, it is encouraging easing of birth policies elsewhere.
The report echoes the accounts of many survivors of Xinjiang’s “re-education camps” and a report published last June by German scholar Adrian Zenz. At the time, he reported that the Chinese government was forcing Uighur women to be sterilized to curb the growth of the minority population in Xinjiang.
The U.S. government has identified “genocide” at least seven times
On January 19, 2021, the State Department officially defined the atrocities committed by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang as “genocide and crimes against humanity,” a designation that the Biden administration has continued since the transition of power.
At a May 12 hearing titled “Ending Genocide,” USCIRF Vice Chairman Tony Perkins praised both administrations for their attention to the issue, but stressed that “at this point, we can’t just focus on the label of genocide. …… we should discuss how the U.S. government can develop a broader strategy to effectively prevent and stop mass atrocities against religions.”
“As survivors of genocide, we Yazidis are deeply sympathetic to the plight of minorities such as the Uyghurs.” Pari Ibrahim, executive director of the Free Yezidi Foundation, shared from personal experience that after the Obama administration defined the Islamic State’s (ISIS) atrocities against Christians, Yezidis and Shiite Muslims in Syria and Iraq as genocide. atrocities against Christians, Yazidis and Shi’ite Muslims in Syria and Iraq by the Obama administration as genocide, has brought increased international attention, and infused resources, to the significant impact on her people.
“After the U.S. spoke out and said genocide was happening, the international community finally began to face up to the fact that women were being reduced to sex slaves, children were being brainwashed to become child soldiers or bombers, and people of the tribe were dying under the atrocities of the Islamic State. (The international community) has finally decided to draw a red line and take action.” Ibasi said.
Wai Wai Nu, founder and executive director of the Women’s Peace Network (WPN), who grew up in Burma, cited the Rohingya experience, describing the international community’s recognition of a genocide as akin to discovering a disease and confirming it – the cause needs to be identified before the cure can be administered.
Van Scheck called for more sanctions, trade restrictions, and humanitarian relief programs to receive refugees after the U.S. defines genocide as occurring in Xinjiang. At the same time, it is important to strategically respond to China’s atrocities in Xinjiang through nonprofit organizations, the United Nations and other international organizations.
“We should also put (a boycott of) the Beijing Winter Olympics into the (sanctions) options. For example, countries not sending high-level delegations to the games, or forcing a shift in the location of the games.” Vanscheck said, “We shouldn’t ask athletes to compete next to a huge concentration camp.”
The U.S. government has officially used the term “genocide” at least seven times since the end of the Cold War. In addition to the case of Xinjiang, others include: condemning the Bosnian Serb genocide of Bosnian Muslims in 1993; finding the massacre of Tutsis by Hutus in Rwanda to constitute genocide in 1994; accusing the Iraqi government of trying to exterminate its own Kurdish population in 1995; declaring the persecution of Arabs by the Sudanese government in Darfur to constitute genocide in 2004 and in 2016 and 2017, the Islamic State was found to have committed genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shia groups. In April, U.S. President Joe Biden declared the Armenian massacre a genocide.