China is allegedly forcing women to be sterilised with contraceptive devices in Xinjiang in an apparent attempt to limit the population of Muslim Uyghurs, according to new research. The report, by China scholar Adrian Zenz, was based on a combination of official regional data, policy documents and interviews with ethnic minority women in Xinjiang, the BBC reported on Tuesday.
It alleges that Uyghur women and other ethnic minorities are being threatened with internment in the camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas.
It also says that women who had fewer than the two children legally permitted were involuntarily fitted with intrauterine devices (IUDs), while others were coerced into receiving sterilisation surgeries.
“Since a sweeping crackdown starting in late 2016 transformed Xinjiang into a draconian police state, witness accounts of intrusive state interference into reproductive autonomy have become ubiquitous,” the BBC quoted the report as saying.
According to Zenz’s analysis of the data, natural population growth in Xinjiang has declined dramatically in recent years, with growth rates falling by 84 per cent in the two largest Uyghur prefectures between 2015 and 2018 and declining further in 2019.
Responding to the report on Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry said the allegations were “baseless” and showed “ulterior motives”.
Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused media outlets of “cooking up false information on Xinjiang-related issues”.
But the report has prompted international calls for the UN to investigate.
In a statement on Monday, the Interparliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), an international cross-party group of politicians including Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, and US Senator Marco Rubio, called on the UN to “establish an international, impartial, independent investigation into the situation in the Xinjiang region”.
China has faced mounting global scrutiny over its treatment of Uyghurs in recent years.
An investigation by the BBC in 2019 suggested that children in Xinjiang were being systematically separated from their families in an effort to isolate them from their Muslim communities.