Beijing: Newly published research has provided compelling evidence that China is carrying out a slow genocide of the Uighur population, due to Beijing’s perception of the community as a national security threat.
Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow in China studies, and Erin Rosenberg, an attorney specialising in international criminal law, wrote for Foreign Policy that the five governments had declared China’s actions against Uighurs as genocide, based on evidence of systematic suppression of births.
In an upcoming peer-reviewed publication in the Central Asian Survey, Zenz presents comprehensive and compelling new evidence based on published statements and reports from Chinese academics and officials. The core message is that the Uighur population as such is a threat that endangers China’s national security.
Beijing has begun suppressing Uighur birth rates to “optimise” ethnic population ratios for counterterrorism purposes. This would reduce population growth by preventing between 2.6 and 4.5 million births by 2040 in southern Xijiang alone.
Liao Zhaoyu, dean of the Institute of Frontier History and Geography at Xinjiang’s Tarim University, has argued the region’s terrorism problem is a direct result of high Uighur population concentrations in southern Xinjiang.
Chinese researchers have argued the “foundation for solving Xinjiang’s counterterrorism” is “to solve the human problem.” More specifically, this requires “diluting … the proportion of ethnic populations” by increasing the Han population share and reducing the shares of populations with “negative energy,” such as religious and traditionally-minded Uighurs, noted Foreign Policy.
Boosting Han population shares without significantly exceeding carrying capacities requires drastic reductions in ethnic minority population growth. By 2040, the state could boost Han population shares in southern Xinjiang to nearly 25 percent by settling 1.9 million Han. This would dilute Uighur population concentrations in line with counterterrorism targets.
According to Zenz and Rosenberg, Beijing is also planning to settle 300,000 Han people in southern Xinjiang by 2022. However, it is also Xinjiang’s most ecologically fragile region as arable land and water are scarce and Urbanisation and industrial development vastly increased per capita resource utilisation.
After a draconian campaign of suppressing births, natural population growth in southern Xinjiang is already trending toward zero. Some regions planned to push it below zero for 2020 and 2021.
According to Foreign Policy, Xinjiang has told family planning offices to “optimise the population structure” and carry out “population monitoring and early warning”. It also no longer reports birth rates or population counts by region or ethnic group.
These findings have shed important new light on Beijing’s intent to physically destroy in part the Uighur ethnic group by preventing births within the group. The prevention of Uyghur births is a critical and necessary part of China’s overall “optimisation” policy in Xinjiang — a policy considered to be a matter of national security.
Furthermore, China’s systematic imprisonment of Uighur religious, intellectual, and cultural elites has emboldened the gravity of the situation, with the increased imposition of lengthy sentences as opposed to arbitrary detention.
Moreover, the systematic removal of persons central to maintaining and transmitting Uighur culture and identity is accompanied by a policy of family separations, where Uighur children are taught to adopt the majority Han culture.
Meanwhile, the perception of Uighurs as a human threat to China’s national security suggests birth prevention targets could increase over time, increasing the threat to the continued existence of the group as a whole.
China has been globally rebuked for cracking down on Uighur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities, and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.
After years of denying the existence of the internment camps in Beijing, China in 2019 described the facilities as residential training centres that provide vocational training for Uighurs, discourage radicalisation and help protect the country from terrorism.
However, several media reports and former detainees have said that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.