Sterilizations and Mandatory Birth Control in Xinjiang
Evidence of the CCP’s campaign to suppress Uyghur birthrates in Xinjiang
Dr Adrian Zenz
In 2019, a growing number of witnesses testified to the fact that Xinjiang authorities were administering unknown drugs and injections to women in detention, forcibly implanting intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) prior to internment, coercing women to accept surgical sterilization, and using internment as punishment for birth control violations.
After her release from internment, Zumrat Dawut, a Uyghur woman from Urumqi, was threatened with return to detention if she did not submit to free surgical sterilization (Washington Post, November 17, 2019).
Rakhima Senbay, a mother of four, was forcibly fitted with an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) in what was said to be a routine mandatory procedure prior to her internment (Washington Post, October 5, 2019).
In June 2020, Xinjiang researcher Adrian Zenz from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation confirmed for the first time the veracity and scale of these anecdotal accounts through a systematic analysis of government documents.
Key findings in Dr Zenz’s report include:
Natural population growth in Xinjiang’s minority regions declined dramatically since 2017. Growth rates fell by 84 percent in the two largest Uyghur prefectures between 2015 and 2018, and declined further in several minority regions in 2019. For 2020, one Uyghur region set a near-zero birth rate target of 1.05 per million. This was intended to be achieved through “family planning work.”
Government documents bluntly mandate that birth control violations are punishable by extrajudicial internment. This confirms evidence from the leaked “Karakax List” document, wherein such violations were the most common reason for internment (Journal of Political Risk, February 2020).
Documents from 2019 reveal plans for a campaign of mass female sterilization in rural Uyghur regions, targeting 14 and 34 percent of all married women of childbearing age in two Uyghur counties that year.
This project targeted all of southern Xinjiang and continued in 2020 with increased funding. Budget figures indicate that this project had sufficient funding for performing hundreds of thousands of tubal ligation sterilization procedures in 2019 and 2020, with least one region receiving additional central government funding.
In 2018, a Uyghur prefecture openly set a goal of leading its rural populations to accept widespread sterilization surgery.
By 2019, Xinjiang planned to subject at least 80 percent of women of childbearing age in four rural southern minority prefectures to intrusive birth prevention surgeries (IUDs or sterilizations), with actual shares likely being much higher.
In 2018, 80 percent of all net added IUD placements in China (calculated as placements minus removals) were performed in Xinjiang, despite the fact that the region only makes up 1.8 percent of the nation’s population.
Between 2015 and 2018, about 860,000 ethnic Han residents left Xinjiang, while up to 2 million new residents were added to Xinjiang’s Han majority regions. These figures raise concerns that Beijing is doubling down on a policy of Han settler colonialism.
These findings provide the strongest evidence yet that Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang meet one of the genocide criteria cited in the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, namely that of Section D of Article II: “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the [targeted] group” (United Nations, December 9, 1948).
The Associated Press reported on some of the practical implementation of such policies.
“Officials and armed police began pounding on doors, looking for kids and pregnant women. … Notices found by the AP show that local governments set up or expanded systems to reward those who report illegal births. In some areas, women were ordered to take gynecology exams after the ceremonies, they said. In others, officials outfitted special rooms with ultrasound scanners for pregnancy tests.
“Test all who need to be tested,” ordered a township directive from 2018. “Detect and deal with those who violate policies early.”