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The Associated Press (AP) on Monday reported China has forced “hundreds of thousands” of Uyghur women, and women from other minorities in Xinjiang province, to use abortion and birth control over the past four years in a program of deliberate “demographic genocide.”

The AP investigation was based on “government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor.” The investigation was conducted after numerous individual women from Xinjiang claimed they had been forced to use birth control.

“The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show. Even while the use of IUDs and sterilization has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang,” the AP reported.

Failure to comply with the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) birth control orders can get Xinjiang women sent to the concentration camps China euphemistically refers to as “vocational training centers.” According to the AP report, simply having three or more children can trigger police raids, detention, and fines amounting to triple the annual disposable income of the impoverished province. 

Some of those “police raids” are evidently conducted by Chinese military officers, as in the case of an ethnic Kazakh woman who told AP investigators she was forced to get an IUD after her third child but was later confronted by military officials and told to pay an enormous fine for baby number three anyway. Her husband was already in the concentration camps and she was warned she would join him if she didn’t pay up.

“God bequeaths children on you. To prevent people from having children is wrong. They want to destroy us as a people,” the Kazakh woman sobbed while talking with investigators.

The AP report pointed out that minorities in China are still legally allowed to have three children, having been largely exempted from the strict population control measures China is infamous for imposing. 

The restrictions on Han Chinese have been relaxed over the past few years, and they are not subjected to the kind of forced abortions, sterilizations, and guilty-after-the-fact penalties as Xinjiang minorities are now suffering, creating an environment where the Uyghurs and other oppressed people are afraid to have children. The AP report said some Uyghur women are so frightened they have performed dangerous improvised abortions on themselves to keep the authorities from learning they became pregnant.

The AP uncovered documents that showed local officials offering rewards for information about “illegal births” and mass indiscriminate testing imposed on women who turned out for mandatory “patriotic” flag-raising ceremonies. Other documents showed that nearly a third of the inmates at some Xinjiang concentration camps were incarcerated for having too many children. 

One former inmate spoke of watching a Uyghur woman forced by camp guards to confess that she “gave birth to too many children” because she was “uneducated and know little about the law.” A camp official responded to her forced confession by sneering, “You ethnic minorities are shameless, wild, and uncivilized.”

The “demographic genocide” campaign appears to be working, as the AP noted births are down by 24 percent in Xinjiang in the past year, and down over 60 percent among Uyghurs over the past three years.

The AP quoted some experts who said the Chinese are attempting to trim the Uyghur population to reduce the social influence of Islam, along with every other religion, and because the Chinese government became convinced several years ago that a growing Uyghur population posed a major security risk. 

Other observers said the Chinese program is simply a slow-moving form of genocide, as local birth rates are suppressed while Han Chinese migration into Xinjiang is goosed with subsidies and rewards, including reported cash rewards for intermarriage between Han Chinese and Uyghurs. Some of the AP’s sources, including the Kazakh woman who went into debt paying retroactive fines for her third child, said they were forced to live with Han Chinese men while their husbands were held in the concentration camps, a practice first documented in late 2019.

The Chinese government denied the allegations in the AP report as “baseless” without challenging any of the data presented. The Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the AP and other media outlets of “cooking up false information on Xinjiang-related issues” and insisted the province is “harmonious and stable.”

The World Uyghur Congress, a non-governmental human rights organization, and the multi-partisan Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) issued statements on Monday asking the international community to conduct an investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.

President Donald Trump last week signed the Uyghur Human Rights Act into law, authorizing sanctions against Chinese officials who participate in “human rights violations and abuses such as the systematic use of indoctrination camps, forced labor and intrusive surveillance to eradicate the ethnic identity and religious beliefs of Uyghurs and other minorities.” 

Beijing denounced the law as “malicious” interference in China’s internal affairs and vowed to “resolutely hit back” if any sanctions are imposed.

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