China’s embassy in Washington stated this week that repressive policies toward minority Uighurs in western China include birth control designed to stop Uighur women from becoming “baby-making machines.”
“Study shows that in the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uighur women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines. They are more confident and independent,” according to a post Thursday by the official embassy Twitter account.
The tweet included a link to a report in the Communist Party-affiliated Global Times that said decreases in the birth rate and natural population growth rate in Xinjiang “resulted in the eradication of religious extremism.”
The report was based on a study of population change in Xinjiang, where U.S. officials have said more than 1 million ethnic Muslim Uighurs have been placed in concentration camps and faced repression as part of a Chinese government counter-terrorism campaign.
A Chinese embassy spokesman had no comment on the use of the term “baby-making machines” to describe Uighur women.
But the spokesman denied reports by western researchers that China is engaged in forced sterilization and other dubious population control practices in Xinjiang.
German scholar and Chinese expert Adrian Zenz has said the Chinese government is engaged in population control of Uighurs.
“The population control regime instituted by [Chinese Communist Party] authorities in Xinjiang aims to suppress minority population growth while boosting the Han population through increased births and in-migration, draconian measures that impose surgical birth control methods to enable the state to increase or decrease minority population growth at will, akin to opening or closing a faucet.,” Mr. Zenz wrote in a report released in June.
The Chinese study by the Xinjiang Development Research Center, a government entity, stated that “extremism” had resulted in resistance to “family planning” among the local population. Eradicating extremism had given Uighur women “more autonomy when deciding whether to have children.”
The report said the changes were not the result of “forced sterilization, as some Western scholars have claimed.
According to Global Time, unspecified family planning policies were “fully implemented” in the region under Chinese law.
Regulations put in place in 2017 in western China stated that all ethnic groups were required to implement a family planning policy that permitted couples in cities to have two children and those in rural areas three children.
Use of contraceptives, tubal ligation and intrauterine devices resulted in a decrease in the birth rate from 1.6% in 2017 to 1% in 2018. Population growth rates fell from 1.1% to 0.6%. Overall, the number of Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic group that its supporters say is seeking to restore an independent East Turkistan in the region, increased from 10.2 million in 2010 to 12.7 million in 2018.
Global Times said the reduction in births was due “more to personal choice than government policy.”
After Twitter received complaints about the tweet, the company responded that the embassy’s tweet did not violate Twitter’s rules.