China ordered hospitals in the country's far west region of Xinjiang to kill newborn babies if their birth violated the family planning rules laid down by the Xi Jinping government, a report said on Monday. The Xinjiang region is home to the Uighur Muslims who have faced decades-long persecution at the hands of the Chinese government.

The family planning rules imposed in the Xinjiang region required the ethnic minority mothers to have a gap of at least three years between pregnancies, obstetrician Hasiyet Abdulla told Radio Free Asia (RFA). If the pregnancies were under the three-year gap, the hospitals' family planning departments killed the newborn babies after the mothers went through a full term, Abdulla, who is of Uighur ethnicity, said.

"They wouldn't give the baby to the parents—they kill the babies when they're born," Abdulla, who now lives in Turkey, said. "It's an order that's been given from above, it's an order that's been printed and distributed in official documents. Hospitals get fined if they don't comply, so of course, they carry this out."

File photo of an ethnic Uighur woman on a drip at a hospital in Shaya county of Aksu
File photo of an ethnic Uighur woman on a drip at a hospital in Shaya county of Aksu Reuters

The ethnic minorities in rural areas were allowed to have three children, while those in the urban areas were limited to having two children, the obstetrician told RFA. Medical staff at each hospital in the region kept archival records on all pregnancies in their family planning departments and oversaw abortions if the pregnancies did not meet the three-year gap rule. After the childbirth, the health professionals reportedly carry out the implantation of intrauterine devices to avoid future pregnancies.

The report followed an investigation by the Associated Press in June that found that the ethnic minorities, largely the Uighur Muslims, were forced to undergo sterilizations and abortions in what some experts called it a form of "demographic genocide." This was reportedly done in a bid to control the population of the ethnic minorities as the Chinese government encouraged the country's Han majority to bear more children.

The crackdown on the Uighur Muslims was so strong that if the authorities found them having too many children, they would be sent to detention camps. The parents of three or more children were forcibly separated from their families and would be allowed to reunite with them only if they paid huge fines. Birth rates in the Xinjiang region plunged nearly 24 percent in 2019 as opposed to 4.2 percent in the rest of China, statistics reportedly showed.