Beijing is carrying out “demographic genocide” against the Uyghurs through mass-sterilization
A new research paper published on June 29 revealed more horrifying details about the Chinese government’s ongoing persecution of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Dr. Adrian Zenz disclosed how Beijing has launched a mass sterilization and population control program targeting Uyghurs living in rural parts of Xinjiang. He described the campaign as “demographic genocide” that reflects Beijing’s racial supremacy.
Question: Your latest report is an extension from the initial findings disclosed through the leaked documents known as the “Karakax List” as well as your earlier studies. Can you share more about your latest findings?
Adrian Zenz: We initially understood that China is pursuing a campaign of securitization, police state and surveillance, which then turned into a campaign of internment. The internment program brought strong signs of cultural assimilation and basically what we needed to call it “cultural genocide,” because there are very targeted attacks on cultural and spiritual belief of the Uyghurs.
This particular research is connected with all of that, but it now points a little bit to the direction of actual genocide since it ticked one of the criteria of the United Nation’s Convention on the Prevention of Genocide. There is evidence showing China has launched a mass suppression of births targeting the Uyghurs.
This extremely draconian regime of population control first gave an impression that China is enforcing existing family planning regulations. However, the evidence that I uncovered points to the fact that they are doing a lot more than enforcing existing family planning regulations.
Uyghurs’ birth rates are being suppressed far below government targets as well as far below what we usually see based on regular family planning even if it’s affected by internment. The evidence from government documents are very blatant about placement targets about intrauterine contraceptive devices.
In two particular counties, they set numerical targets for sterilization. The targets from these two counties are embedded in a much wider policy program of offering free birth prevention surgical services to the rural population in southern Xinjiang.
Question: In both research papers, you have emphasized that the drop of birth rate is concentrated in Uyghur-majority regions in Xinjiang. Would you say China is trying to rely on this program to control population growth among the ethnic minorities in Xinjiang?
Adrian Zenz: The answer is yes. My research shows that the greatest decline of birth rates takes place in rural Uyghur counties in Xinjiang. One of the prefectures set a near zero population growth target for 2020, which is unheard of.
The program of offering free birth prevention surgical services specifically targets the rural population in Southern Xinjiang, which has a large Uyghur population. Some of the most draconian policy documents that threaten internment for women who don’t comply with the government program are from minority counties.
Question: Do you think the latest evidence makes it appropriate to use the word “genocide” to describe Beijing’s ongoing persecution of the Uyghurs, as other scholars have suggested?
Adrian Zenz: I’m cautiously inclined to use the term “demographic genocide,” meaning that we have the particular aspect of genocide. The dramatic prevention of minority births is taking place in the context of two million new permanent residents arriving in Xinjiang between 2015 and 2018. All of them settled in Urumqi or in the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corp’s regions. We don’t have the exact data but we must assume they are Han Chinese from outside of XInjiang.
There is a three-pronged strategy. There is a promotion of incoming Han settlers who were promised land, well-paying jobs, monthly living subsidies and even free housing. They are also promoting inter-racial marriage between Han Chinese and Uyghurs. Thirdly, they also launched a massive suppression of minority births. Those three in tandem are like a strategy of racial supremacy.
Question: We have seen a clear transition in terms of Beijing’s strategies for continuing the oppression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. A recent DW report found that Uyghurs were forced to pick crimes from a list and then were prosecuted in sham trials in the re-education camps before they were transferred to prisons. Have you documented any clear transition in China’s strategies and what do you think are their logic behind the transition?
Adrian Zenz: From the Karakax List, a substantial number of those detained in internment camps in 2017 and 2018 have been released. There are substantial reports about people being imprisoned. We need to keep in mind that the internment camp network is a vast network of vast extrajudicial internment facilities, some of which have nothing to do with vocational training camps.
We have some knowledge about how many people remain in that part of the extrajudicial detention network and what is happening to them. We also have limited understanding about the nightlight data from some re-education camps in Xinjiang, which contradicts with Beijing’s claims that Uyghurs detained in the camps have been released at massive numbers.
Some facilities didn’t have a substantial reduction of nightlight based on research conducted at the end of last year. It is possible that some people are released but others are kept in the camps. The situation is ongoing, and the sense is that China is more ruthlessly establishing long-term control mechanisms in the societies.
Question: There have been lots of calls on the international community to put pressure on China regarding its persecution of the Uyghurs. What are some of the ways that the international community can leverage in order to pressure China on this particular issue?
Adrian Zenz: The international community’s responsibility is very clear, and the first step is to speak out about what has been happening. However, even that hasn’t happened. Speaking out has been muted and it is half-hearted at best.
Mechanisms available now include the General Assembly at the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC.) The alliance issued a statement on my research findings and explicitly called for an United Nations inquiry in order to determine the nature of the atrocity, be it a form of genocide or crimes against humanity.
On Tuesday, we will expect a number of parliamentary inquiries and challenges to governments in the member countries of the IPAC.
This interview was first published in Mandarin on DW’s Chinese website.