China tweaking Uyghur population data to counter genocide chargestext_fields
New Delhi: China, at the receiving end of charges of genocide of its Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province, has rejected the allegations of the Muslim population in Xinjiang province by launching an aggressive propaganda drive to counter the reports of oppression.
An example is the white paper "Population Development in Xinjiang" released on September 26 by the Information Office of the State Council of China which introduced the population development of Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) with a large number of facts and detailed data.
The report said that Xinjiang's population development conforms to the universal law of world population development and is also a portrayal of the continuous development and progress of Xinjiang's human rights cause. All this benefits from the continuous release of social stability dividends in Xinjiang, showing the world a successful example of a unified multi-ethnic country promoting the healthy development of ethnic minority populations.
Beijing is used to accusing Western 'anti-China' forces of fabricating "genocide" arguing that the exercise is an attempt to deceive the international community, mislead world public opinion, and deter China's development and progress. It is such propaganda, argues the Chinese authorities that have led to sanctions against XUAR officials, and moves by them to block Xinjiang products suspected of having been produced with forced labour.
In the process of countering such arguments, China by and large brackets criticisms of its treatment of Uyghur population with the international trade equations with the US and European nations plus the latter's denouncement of China's human rights accords.
The report asserts that population growth in Xinjiang since 1949 refutes a series of reports on mass internment, forced birth control and other Chinese policies to reduce the proportion of Uyghurs in the region has angered the Uyghurs, but experts observe that Beijing is guilty of cherry-picking the numbers.
The white paper on population data tries to address charges of documented abuses in the region, including mass internment camps, sexual assault, forced abortions and forced labour.
Amid a surge in international awareness of the situation in Xinjiang that began about three years ago, a territory the size of Alaska or Iran, the US and other western states have determined that the treatment of Uyghurs constitutes genocide and crimes against humanity.
China has not permitted the UN or other independent outside observers to visit the region to investigate. On the other hand, state media and Chinese diplomats regularly vilify the scholars who revealed the mass internment and birth control programs. To this end, Xinjiang officials hold frequent news conferences to promote Beijing's views.
The report cites census data indicating that of the region's total population of 25.85 million, ethnic minorities in Xinjiang totalled 14.93 million up from 4.45 million in 1953 while Han Chinese comprise the rest. The number of Uyghurs increased from 3.61 million in 1953 to 11.62 million in 2020, and accounted for nearly 84 per cent of the population in the four prefectures in southern Xinjiang, where the Uyghurs are concentrated, the white paper said.
The Uygur population grew with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 1.67 percent during the first two decades in the 21st century from over 8.34 million to over 11.62 million, according to the white paper which also says that the growth rate was much higher than that of the country's ethnic minority population, which stood at 0.83 percent.
It is not clear from such data whether the increase of the country's overall population was in the same percentage. Nor does the white paper explain the conditions in which its population lives while the regime faces reproach for the torture in jails and forced re-education of Muslim population pushing them to give up their religious beliefs.
President of the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress exile group said the report "attempts to present the so-called normal and natural growth of the Uyghur population as if China hasn't arbitrarily locked up millions of Uyghur people in concentration camps, forcibly sterilised hundreds of thousands of Uyghur women, separated Uyghur children from their parents, aborted countless Uyghur babies, forced Uyghur women to marry Chinese men, and coerced tens of thousands into forced labour".
"China will never be able to escape its criminal responsibility for the commission of genocide and crimes against humanity in East Turkestan by manipulating and manufacturing the Uyghur population growth data," he said.
Chinese human rights lawyer Teng said that the government's statistics, including the national population census, are meant to serve the political aims of the Chinese Communist Party.