China is systematically reducing the population of the restive Xinjiang province by forcing controversial birth control policies on the ethnic Muslim Uighurs, a new report says.
Beijing's birth control policies could potentially cut as much as 4.5 million births of the Uyghur and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang in the next 20 years, an analysis by a German researcher has shown.
The research report was shared exclusively with Reuters, the news agency said. The report sheds light into the hitherto unreported policies pursued by the Chinese government in order to control the population growth of the Uighurs. China's official population data shows that birth-rates in Xinjiang has already decreased by as much as 48 percent between 2017 and 2019.
The researcher, Adrian Zenz, highlights the growing demands for an investigation into the Chinese repression in the province. Some in the western world have demanded a probe into whether the Chinese policies amount genocidal tactic, while China insists that it is fighting separatism through cultural assimilation.
"This (research and analysis) really shows the intent behind the Chinese government's long-term plan for the Uyghur population," Zenz told Reuters.
However China retorts that the genocide charge is pure nonsense. "The so-called 'genocide' in Xinjiang is pure nonsense ... It is a manifestation of the ulterior motives of anti-China forces in the United States and the West and the manifestation of those who suffer from Sinophobia," China's Foreign Ministry told Reuters in a statement.
The German expert's research found that the Uighur population in southern Xinjiang would reach between 8.6-10.5 million by 2040 under the new birth prevention policies. "That compares to 13.14 million projected by Chinese researchers using data pre-dating the implemented birth policies and a current population of around 9.47 million," the researcher says.
A controversial Twitter post from the Chinese Embassy in the US had called Uighur women "baby-making machines" in January this year. China's ethnic minorities including Uighur Muslims have been a target of an oppressive campaign by the Chinese government.
In the last few years, China's attempt to "re-educate" the Uighur population has been met with intense criticism. According to Zenz's previous research report, the authorities set up mass detention camps forcing them to learn about Chinese culture. However, it was women who had to suffer the most. Many women were detained and forced to abort, sterilize and use intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) to control the population of Uighur Muslims. China although denied the accusations.
"They keep trying to get out of the accusations of genocide. We first thought that internment and strict enforcement of family planning were greatly depressing population growth rates in Uighur regions," Zenz told ABC News, adding that there was substantial evidence for the "forced mass sterilization" campaign in Xinjiang.
Zenz is an independent researcher with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which is based in Washington, D.C..
On it part, China's foreign ministry has said Zenz is "misleading" people with data.
Meanwhile, on a broader level, China is reviewing its birth control policies. Beijing said last week it was allowing married couples to have three children, up from two earlier. The new guidance did not make any reference to any specific ethnic groups.