A new state media report claims that the Chinese government is no longer holding Uyghur women in internment camps. The Uyghur women have been “emancipated” and are “no longer baby-making machines,” according to a tweet posted by the Chinese Embassy in the U.S.
Uyghurs are Muslims who are ethnically Turkic. They are a minority population.
“In the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uyghur women were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines,” the report said. “Women have since been striving to become healthy, confident and independent.”
The report received backlash, with many saying that the Chinese government was admitting to the persecution of the Uyghur population in China.
In a research report released last year, Adrian Zenz, a German scholar, discovered that the Chinese government disguised these internment camps as “re-education camps” but according to Zenz’s research, were used as a form of threat and punishment. Officials detain women and families who fail to comply with pregnancy checks, forced contraception, sterilizations or abortions.
Zenz said there had been a significant drop in the natural population growth rate in southern Xinjiang (Northwest China) in 2018 and claimed that China was trying to control the size of the Uyghur population.
Zenz said that the Chinese government had a plan to reduce natural birth or natural population growth to near zero by 2020.
The state media report denied that the decrease in birth rate and natural population growth was due to forced sterilization. The Chinese government attributed the decrease in population growth to family planning programs and increased education.
The state media report claims that safe, effective and appropriate contraceptive measures were available to couples of childbearing age in Xinjiang, and it is their personal decisions on whether to use those measures. As a result, the birthrate in Xinjiang decreased.
“An increasing number of people in southern Xinjiang were deciding to marry and have children later in life, seeing the benefits of fewer but better births, and the change was due more to personal choice than government policy.”
China denies any claims of forced sterilization, however, experts continue to believe Uighur women in Xinjiang are being sterilized.