Xinjiang Chief Signals New Curbs on Births for Uyghurs

After a series of violent attacks attributed by the government to Xinjiang separatists, the restive western region of China has been declared the “primary battlefield” in a yearlong, nationwide crackdown on terrorism. Anti-terrorism efforts in Xinjiang have so far included mass sentencing rallies, a crackdown on “violent Internet content,” the launch of a cash rewards programs for those who aid in tracking down alleged terrorists, and restrictions on items allowed in buses in certain cities—which in Karamay curtails veils, burkas, and facial hair. Based on an article recently printed in Party political theory journal Qiushi (求是), regional family planning policy in Xinjiang may soon put new limits on the number of children allowed in Uyghur families. Bloomberg reports:

China plans to adopt the same family planning policies for all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, the western province’s Communist Party chief wrote in an essay, signaling further curbs for the Uighur Muslim minority.

Southern Xinjiang will “implement family planning policy equally on all ethnic groups, to lower and stabilize an appropriate birth rate,” Zhang Chunxian wrote in the August edition of Qiushi, an official magazine of the party.

Zhang’s remarks may indicate a shift in rules that let Uighurs have as many as three children in the countryside, while Han Chinese can have two. Even though about 92 percent of China’s 1.3 billion population is Han, more than 45 percent of Xinjiang’s 22 million people are Uighurs, a Muslim people from eastern and central Asia.

[…] Under current rules, Uighurs can have two children in urban areas while Han Chinese are in general only allowed one.

Uighurs are supposed to be exempt from China’s one-child policy. Yet under the policy, four Uighur women in Hotan prefecture in Xinjiang were forced to undergo forced abortions, Radio Free Asia reported in December. […] [Source]

Elsewhere in China, measured easing of the one-child policy began early this year.

As authorities crackdown in Xinjiang in effort to control violence, some commentators have argued that restrictions aimed at ethnic Uyghurs work instead to fuel unrest.