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China policies ‘could cut millions of Uighur births in Xinjiang’ | Civil Rights News

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Chinese birth control policies could cut between 2.6 to 4.5 million births by the mostly Musilm Uighur and other ethnic minorities in southern Xinjiang within 20 years, up to a third of the region’s projected minority population, according to a new analysis by a German researcher.

The report, shared exclusively with the Reuters news agency ahead of publication, also includes a previously unreported cache of research produced by Chinese academics and officials on Beijing’s intent behind the birth control policies in Xinjiang, where official data shows birthrates dropped by 48.7 percent between 2017 and 2019.

Adrian Zenz’s research comes amid growing calls among some western countries for an investigation into whether China’s actions in Xinjiang amount to genocide, a charge Beijing vehemently denies.

The research by Zenz is the first such peer-reviewed analysis of the long-term population effect of Beijing’s multi-year crackdown in the western region. Rights groups, researchers and some residents say the policies include newly enforced birth limits on Uighur and other mainly Muslim ethnic minorities, the transfers of workers to other regions and the internment of an estimated one million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in a network of camps.

“This (research and analysis) really shows the intent behind the Chinese government’s long-term plan for the Uighur population,” Zenz told Reuters.

The Chinese government has not made public any official target for reducing the proportion of Uighur and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. But based on analysis of official birth data, demographic projections and ethnic ratios proposed by Chinese academics and officials, Zenz estimates Beijing’s policies could increase the predominant Han Chinese population in southern Xinjiang to approximately 25 percent from 8.4 percent currently.

“This goal is only achievable if they do what they have been doing, which is drastically suppressing (Uighur) birth rates,” Zenz said.

‘Pure nonsense’

China has previously said the current drop in ethnic minority birth rates is due to the full implementation of the region’s existing birth quotas as well as development factors, including an increase in per capita income and wider access to family planning services.

“The so-called ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang is pure nonsense,” China’s Foreign Ministry told Reuters in a statement. “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.”

Official data showing the decrease in Xinjiang birth rates between 2017 and 2019 “does not reflect the true situation” and Uighur birthrates remain higher than Han ethnic people in Xinjiang, the ministry added.

The new research compares a population projection done by Xinjiang-based researchers for the government-run Chinese Academy of Sciences based on data predating the crackdown, to official data on birthrates and what Beijing describes as “population optimisation” measures for Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities introduced since 2017.

It found the population of ethnic minorities in Uighur-dominated southern Xinjiang would reach between 8.6 to 10.5 million by 2040 under the new birth prevention policies. That compares with 13.14 million projected by Chinese researchers using data predating the implemented birth policies and a current population of about 9.47 million.

Zenz, an independent researcher with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a bipartisan non-profit organisation based in Washington, DC, has previously been condemned by Beijing for his research which has been critical of China’s policies on detaining Uighurs, mass labour transfers and birth reduction in Xinjiang.

China’s Foreign Ministry has accused Zenz of “misleading” people with data and, in response to Reuters’ questions, said: “His lies aren’t worth refuting”.

Zenz’s research was accepted for publication by the Central Asian Survey, a quarterly academic journal, after peer review on June 3.

Reuters shared the research and methodology with more than a dozen experts in population analysis, birth prevention policies and international human rights law, who said the analysis and conclusions were sound.

Some of the experts cautioned that demographic projections over a period of decades can be affected by unforeseen factors. The Xinjiang government has not publicly set an official ethnic quota or population size goals for ethnic populations in southern Xinjiang and quotas used in the analysis are based on proposed figures from Chinese officials and academics.

‘End Uighur dominance’

The move to prevent births among Uighur and other minorities is in sharp contrast with China’s wider birth policies.

Last week, Beijing announced married couples can have three children, up from two, the largest such policy shift since the one-child policy was scrapped in 2016 in response to China’s rapidly ageing population. The announcement contained no reference to any specific ethnic groups.

Before then, measures officially limited the country’s majority Han ethnic group and minority groups including Uighur to two children – three in rural areas. However, Uighurs and other ethnic minorities had historically been partially excluded from those birth limits as part of preferential policies designed to benefit the minority communities.

Some residents, researchers and rights groups say the newly enforced rules now disproportionately affect Islamic minorities, who face detention for exceeding birth quotas, rather than fines as elsewhere in China.

In a Communist Party record leaked in 2020, also reported by Zenz, a re-education camp in southern Xinjiang’s Karakax County listed birth violations as the reason for internment in 149 cases out of 484 detailed in the list. China has called the list a “fabrication”.

Birth quotas for ethnic minorities have become strictly enforced in Xinjiang since 2017, including though the separation of married couples and the use of sterilisation procedures, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and abortions, three Uighur people and one health official inside Xinjiang told Reuters.

Two of the Uighur people said they had direct family members who were detained for having too many children. Reuters could not independently verify the detentions.

“It is not up to choice,” said the official, based in southern Xinjiang, who asked not to be named because they fear reprisals from the local government. “All Uighurs must comply … it is an urgent task.”

The Xinjiang government did not respond to a request for comment about whether birth limits are more strictly enforced against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities. Xinjiang officials have previously said all procedures are voluntary.

Still, in Xinjiang counties where Uighurs are the majority ethnic group, birth rates dropped 50.1 percent in 2019, for example, compared with a 19.7 percent drop in majority ethnic Han counties, according to official data compiled by Zenz.

Zenz’s report says analyses published by state-funded academics and officials between 2014 and 2020 show the strict implementation of the policies are driven by national security concerns and are motivated by a desire to dilute the Uighur population, increase Han migration and boost loyalty to the ruling Communist Party.

For example, 15 documents created by state-funded academics and officials featured in the Zenz report include comments from Xinjiang officials and state-affiliated academics referencing the need to increase the proportion of Han residents and decrease the ratio of Uighurs or described the high concentration of Uighurs as a threat to social stability.

“The problem in southern Xinjiang is mainly the unbalanced population structure … the proportion of the Han population is too low,” Liu Yilei, an academic and the deputy secretary-general of the Communist Party committee of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps,  a government body with administrative authority in the region, told a July 2020 symposium, published on the Xinjiang University website.

Xinjiang must “end the dominance of the Uighur group”, said Liao Zhaoyu, a dean of the institute of frontier history and geography at Xinjiang’s Tarim University at an academic event in 2015, shortly before the birth policies and broader internment programme were enforced in full.

Liao did not respond to a request for comment. Liu could not be reached for comment. The foreign ministry did not comment on their remarks, or on the intent behind the policies.

Intent to destroy?

Zenz and other experts point to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which lists birth prevention imposed on an ethnic group as one act that could qualify as genocide.

The United States government and parliaments in countries including the United Kingdom and Canada have described China’s birth prevention and mass detention policies in Xinjiang as genocide.

However, some academics and politicians say there is insufficient evidence of intent by Beijing to destroy an ethnic population in part or full to meet the threshold for a genocide determination.

No such formal criminal charges have been laid against Chinese or Xinjiang officials because of a lack of available evidence on and insight into the policies in the region. Prosecuting officials would also be complex and require a high bar of proof.

Additionally, China is not party to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the top international court that prosecutes genocide and other serious crimes, and which can only bring action against states within its jurisdiction.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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New Zealand’s Hubbard selected as first transgender Olympian | LGBTQ News

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Laurel Hubbard, 43, will compete in the super-heavyweight women’s event in Tokyo.

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics after being selected by New Zealand for the women’s event at the Tokyo Games, a decision set to test the ideal of fair competition in sport.

New Zealand Olympic Committee chief Kereyn Smith said 43-year-old Hubbard – who was assigned male at birth but transitioned to female in 2013 – had met all the qualification criteria for transgender athletes.

“We acknowledge that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue requiring a balance between human rights and fairness on the field of play,” Smith said in a statement.

Hubbard will compete in the super-heavyweight 87-kg category after showing testosterone levels below the threshold required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The 43-year-old had competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before transitioning.

“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard, an intensely private person who rarely speaks to the media, said in a statement issued by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) on Monday.

Hubbard has been eligible to compete at Olympics since 2015, when the IOC issued guidelines allowing any transgender athlete to compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

Some scientists have said the guidelines do little to mitigate the biological advantages of people who have gone through puberty as males, including bone and muscle density.

Advocates for transgender inclusion argue the process of transition decreases that advantage considerably and that physical differences between athletes mean there is never a truly level playing field.

Save Women’s Sport Australasia, an advocacy group for women athletes, criticised Hubbard’s selection.

“It is flawed policy from the IOC that has allowed the selection of a 43-year-old biological male who identifies as a woman to compete in the female category,” the group said in a statement.

Weightlifting has been at the centre of the debate about the fairness of transgender athletes competing against women, and Hubbard’s presence in Tokyo could prove divisive.

Her gold medal wins at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, where she topped the podium ahead of Samoa’s Commonwealth Games champion Feagaiga Stowers, triggered outrage in the host nation.

Samoa’s weightlifting boss said Hubbard’s selection for Tokyo would be like letting athletes “dope” and feared it could cost the small Pacific nation a medal.

Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen said last month allowing Hubbard to compete at Tokyo was unfair for women and “like a bad joke”.

Australia’s weightlifting federation sought to block Hubbard from competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast but organisers rejected the move.

Hubbard was forced to withdraw after injuring herself during competition, and thought her career was over.

“When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end,” Hubbard said on Monday, thanking New Zealanders.

“But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha (love) carried me through the darkness.”

Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand President Richie Patterson said Hubbard had worked hard to come back from the potentially career-ending injury.

“Laurel has shown grit and perseverance in her return from a significant injury and overcoming the challenges in building back confidence on the competition platform,” he said.

Hubbard is currently ranked 16th in the world in the super heavyweight category.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Apple Daily could shut ‘in days’ after Hong Kong asset freeze | Freedom of the Press News

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Company adviser says action under security law means it cannot access some $50 million in funds to pay staff and vendors.

Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily will be forced to shut “in a matter of days” after authorities used the national security law imposed by China to freeze the company’s assets as it arrested the paper’s editor and four other directors, an adviser to jailed tycoon Jimmy Lai told Reuters on Monday.

Mark Simon, speaking by phone from the United States, said the company was no longer able to access its funds and would be holding a board meeting on Monday to discuss how to move forward.

“We thought we’d be able to make it to the end of the month,” Simon told the news agency. “It’s just getting harder and harder. It’s essentially a matter of days.”

His comments signal closure is imminent even after Apple Daily said on Sunday the freezing of its assets had left the newspaper with cash for “a few weeks” for normal operations.”

The news comes two days after editor Ryan Law, 47, and chief executive Cheung Kim-hung, 59, were denied bail after being charged under the security law with collusion with foreign forces.

Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief Ryan Law arrives back at the detention centre after he was remanded in custody on Saturday [Lam Yik/Reuters]

Three other senior executives were also arrested last Thursday when 500 police officers raided the newspaper’s offices in a case that has drawn condemnation from Western nations, human rights groups and the chief United Nations spokesperson for human rights.

The three have been released on bail.

Simon told Reuters it had become impossible to conduct banking operations.

“Vendors tried to put money into our accounts and were rejected. We can’t bank. Some vendors tried to do that as a favour. We just wanted to find out and it was rejected,” he said.

Speaking earlier to US news channel CNN, Simon said the company had about $50 million available, but was unable to access the funds.

The publisher has come under increasing pressure since its owner Jimmy Lai was arrested under the national security law last August, which marked the first time the company’s headquarters was raided. Lai, 73, is now jailed and facing trial under the national security law. In May, the authorities also froze some assets belonging to the longtime critic of Beijing has also had some of his assets frozen.

Three companies related to Apple Daily are also being prosecuted for collusion with a foreign country and authorities have frozen HK$18 million ($2.3 million) of their assets.

China imposed the national security law on Hong Kong last June saying it was necessary to restore “stability” to a territory that had been rocked by mass protests in 2019, some of which turned violent.

The broadly-worded law criminalises acts such as subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life imprisonment, but critics have said it is being used to suppress legitimate political debate with dozens of pro-democracy politicians and activists among the more than 100 arrested since it was brought into force.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Birmingham Classic: Ons Jabeur beats Daria Kasatkina to win first title

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Tunisian second seed Ons Jabeur defeated Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in straight sets to win her first singles title at the Birmingham Classic.

World number 24 Jabeur triumphed 7-5 6-4 against the fourth seed to become the first Arab woman to win a WTA title.

In Berlin, Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova stunned Swiss fifth seed Belinda Bencic to win her first title.

The 22-year-old world number 106 battled back from a set down to win 1-6 6-1 6-3 in her first final.

Victories for Jabeur and Samsonova mean there have now been 10 first-time singles winners on the women’s Tour this year.

Jabeur broke Kasatkina’s serve three times to prevail in the first set, before successive breaks at the start of the second put the 26-year-old in control at 4-0.

Two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Kasatkina recovered to 4-3, but Jabeur held on to win a singles final at the third attempt.

It was a breakthrough week for Samsonova in Germany, during which she also defeated seventh seed Victoria Azarenka of Belaurus in the semi-final.

World number 12 Bencic won the first five games as she dominated the opening set, but Samsonova matched that feat in the second before completing her comeback with breaks in the first and ninth games in the deciding set.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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