A study published Tuesday in the United States showed that Beijing’s policy on ethnic minorities in Xinjiang could lead to a decline in the number of births by more than 4 million over 20 years.
Uyghurs make up less than half of Xinjiang’s population of 25 million, a strategic region bordering Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Millions of Han Chinese, China’s largest ethnic group, have moved to the area in search of work in recent decades, much to the chagrin of the indigenous peoples. To end tensions, authorities want to influence demographics by controlling minority births, says German researcher Adrian Zenz.
Thus, the proportion of Han Chinese will increase mathematically in Xinjiang. In the south of the region, where the Uyghurs are the most numerous, the proportion of Han Chinese is expected to rise to 25 percent within 20 years. Now their share is 8.4 percent.
According to Adrian Zenz, in some cases, birth control leads to prison sentences and can lead to forced sterilization. Without birth control for ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, the population would naturally increase by 13 to 14 million by 2040. But in the current situation, between 2.6 and 4.5 million births will not occur, Zenz says.
Xinjiang has had the highest birth rates in China in decades, including a rapidly growing Uyghur population. The number of children per household in rural areas was limited to three for ethnic minorities. The authorities have long turned a blind eye to many “illegal” births. But controls have been tightened since 2017. Between 2017 and 2019, the region’s birth rate nearly halved, according to the Australian think tank ASPI (Australian Strategic Policy Institute).
The Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority from the Xinjiang region in northwest China. Many NGOs and countries accuse China of persecuting the Uyghurs. It is said that China has concentration camps where members of the minority fall victim to various mistreatment. Beijing denies the accusations, saying the camps exist as “vocational training centres”.
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