Pompeo Demands Chinese Regime End ‘Disturbing’ Forced Xinjiang Sterilization Program

June 30, 2020 Updated: June 30, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on June 29 demanded that Beijing end its alleged “forced sterilization, forced abortion, and coercive family planning” against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Pompeo in a statement described the measures by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to slash birthrates among Uyghurs as “shocking” and “disturbing,” noting that it is part of a “continuing campaign of repression.”

His remarks came after the publication of a paper (pdf) by German researcher Adrian Zenz in the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation think tank. The report, which analyzed Chinese government documents, found that natural population growth in Xinjiang had fallen “dramatically.”

Zenz said that in Xinjiang’s two largest Uyghur prefectures, growth rates fell by 84 percent between 2015 and 2018, and further in 2019. Some 14 percent and 34 percent of married women of childbearing age in two counties were targeted in a campaign of mass female sterilization, the researcher wrote.

The campaign, Zenz said, likely aimed to sterilize rural minority women with three or more children, as well as some with two children—equivalent to at least 20 percent of all women of childbearing age.

Pompeo, a persistent critic of the Chinese regime, including its treatment of Uyghurs—predominantly Sunni Muslims—said Monday that the findings were consistent with decades of CCP practices “that demonstrate an utter disregard for the sanctity of human life and basic human dignity.”

“We call on the Chinese Communist Party to immediately end these horrific practices and ask all nations to join the United States in demanding an end to these dehumanizing abuses,” Pompeo said.

The CCP has long justified its measures against the Turkic-speaking Uyghurs—one of China’s 55 officially recognized minority ethnic groups—saying its detention facilities aim to “educate and transform” those that it deems at risk of the “three evil forces” of “extremism, separatism, and terrorism.”

Since the CCP reabsorbed Xinjiang into China in September 1949, it has used the Soviet-backed East Turkestan claim as a means to justify its repression of the Uyghur people.

Uyghurs, alongside other ethnic minorities like the Tibetans, as well as faithful believers who remain outside state control, including house Christians and Falun Gong, have long been targeted by the CCP for transformation through “re-education.”

The CCP has incessantly accused Uyghurs of committing “terrorist acts” across the country, despite little evidence. Uyghurs have been banned from adhering to religious practices such as growing “abnormally” long beards, fasting, and wearing religious veils as part of measures the local authorities describe as tackling Islamist extremism.

More than a million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are believed to be detained in the region’s vast network of camps.

Zenz said that by 2019, there were plans to subject at least 80 percent of women of childbearing age in Xinjiang’s four southern minority prefectures to intrusive birth prevention surgeries—placement of intrauterine devices or sterilizations.

He said that in 2018, 80 percent of all new IUD placements in China were performed in Xinjiang, while only 1.8 percent of the population live there.

Forced Medication

The Epoch Times has previously corroborated emerging accounts of forced birth control in the region through interviews with former Uyghur detainees.

Gulbakhar Jalilova, a Kazakhstan national and businesswoman, was held in an all-female camp in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, for just over 15 months before she was released in September 2018. She told The Epoch Times that women were given pills in the facilities to stop them from becoming pregnant.

Those in her camp were forced to ingest unknown medicine daily and were injected with a substance every month which “numbs your emotions.”

Meanwhile Canada-based Rabiye Muhammad, whose mother was detained in February 2018 for visiting her in October 2014 for four months, said she had heard firsthand that a young former Uyghur detainee’s “period stopped suddenly and completely, because they forced her to take pills in camp.”

“Another guy who was released, he said the males are also given a form of medication—they are forced to take it. He said he hid it under his tongue,” Muhammad told The Epoch Times. “Another guy who was a doctor, he said his character changed—he became soft and not like a man.”


In his report, Zenz said his findings represented the strongest evidence yet that Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang met one of the genocide criteria cited in the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (pdf), namely “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the [targeted] group.”

In response to the report, Hong Kong’s last colonial governor Chris Patten told Bloomberg Television that the Chinese regime’s measures arguably amount to “genocide.”

“This is arguably something that comes within the terms of the U.N. views on sorts of genocide,” he said Monday.

“The United States condemns the use of forced population controls against Uyghur and other minority women and calls on the CCP to cease its campaign of repression,” Pompeo added in a Twitter post Monday. “History will judge how we act today.”

Reuters contributed to this report.