Hong Kong – Chinese officials have officially acknowledged birth rates in Xinjiang dropped by almost a third in 2018, compared to the previous year.
But the country also denied reports of forced sterilization and genocide by authorities in the far west region.
The Xinjiang government send a six-page fax responding to questions for an article published by CNN in July that documented a campaign of abuse and control by Beijing targeting women from the Uyghur minority, a Muslim ethnic group numbering more than 10 million people.
This is not the first time Chinese government in Xinjiang has been accused of widespread human rights abused. Up to 2 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are believed to have been placed in mass detention centres in the region, according to the US State Department.
Beijing claims that these centres are voluntary and provide vocational training as part of a de-radicalisatuon program in Xinjiang, which saw a of violent attacks kin recent years.
But media has reported that some Uyghur women were being forced to use birth control and undergo sterilisation as part of a deliberate attempt to push down birth rates among minorities in Xinjiang.
Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation quoted official Chinese documents which show a surge in the number of sterilizations performed in the region – from fewer than 50 per 100,000 people in 2016 to almost 250 per 100,000 people in 2018.
Zenz added that these actions fell under the United Nations definition of “genocide” specifically “imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the group”.
Responding to this, the Xinjiang government strongly denied the claims of genocide.