The mainstream media has suddenly awoken to the fact that China is a genocidal regime. In a chilling and in-depth report, the Associated Press (AP) has documented the evidence that the Chinese government is crushing the Uighurs and other predominantly-Muslim populations in the Xinjiang province through widespread forced sterilization and abortion, and internment in concentration camps.
According to the AP, as many as a million Uighurs and other members of ethnic minorities in the region may currently be locked up in these camps. Often, they are sent to them as punishment for violating the population control measures. While in the camps, they are subjected to intensive propaganda, and their children are sometimes seized and similarly brainwashed in state orphanages.
Contraceptive Genocide Slashes the Uighur Population
The population control and other oppressive measures reportedly mark a dramatic about-face in the region. Previously, ethnic minorities had been granted a variety of entitlements and exceptions to China’s one-child policy. Now, however, the script has flipped. Whereas formerly the government had cracked down especially hard on the Chinese Han population, they are now encouraging the Han to have more children, while targeting the Uighurs.
One father of seven children described how he was arrested and sentenced to seven years in prison – one for each of his children. Many others have received similar – or even longer – prison sentences, for the crime of having children. In some cases, parents are being arrested for having “too many” children many years ago. While in the camp, women are having intrauterine devices (IUDs) inserted by force, or are being injected with contraceptive drugs against their will.
These measures are creating a living nightmare for the Uighurs. Empowered by new orders from the Chinese government, “Officials and armed police began pounding on doors, looking for kids and pregnant women,” reports the AP. They have also offered rewards to those who report “illegal” births. Meanwhile, the government has increased the fines for having too many children to three times the average annual disposable income in the region.
This campaign of terror is having the intended effect. According to the AP, birth rates in two predominantly Uighur regions – Hotan and Kashgar – fell more than 60% between 2015 and 2018. The birth rate in the entire Xinjiang region fell by almost 24% in a single year. By comparison, nationwide the birth rate dropped just 4.2% in the same period.
Same Policy, New Targets
On the one hand, the measures unleashed against the Uighurs are shocking and horrifying, both in their extent and their brutality. On the other hand, they should come as no surprise to those who have paid any attention to recent history in China.
Brutally coercive population control has been a fact of life for Chinese citizens for decades now. While the mainstream media has reported in recent years that China has “abandoned” the one-child policy, this terminology is deeply misleading. China has not so much “abandoned” the policy, as mildly relaxed it. Instead of making its citizens’ lives a living hell if they have more than one child, they now only do so if they have more than two children. Same policy, slightly higher threshold for enforcement. Same human rights violations.
Of course, there are two noteworthy factors about the current crackdown: 1) The zeal with which the population control measures are being enforced; 2) The fact that the enforcement is disproportionately targeting individuals of a specific ethnicity and (often) religion.
It is this latter fact that has led to allegations that China is committing “genocide.” And rightly so. As pro-life leader and expert on China Stephen Mosher recently wrote: “The CCP’s new policy is genocide, albeit in slow motion. The Party is not killing off the Uyghur people in quick-time by, say, herding them into gas chambers. But by eliminating the majority of the next generation they will achieve the same end over time—a greatly reduced number of this ancient people, who will then be more easily dispersed and assimilated.”
This genocidal motive certainly adds a new degree of cruelty and evil to China’s population control efforts. On the other hand, the Chinese government has been perpetrating similar crimes against all of its citizens since at least the 1970s. A few years ago the government estimated that the one-child policy had prevented over 400 million births in the country.
Many of those births were prevented by precisely the kind of forced abortion and forced sterilizations that are being perpetrated on the minority populations in the Xinjiang province. The evidence was there for anyone who had eyes to see – including heartbreaking videos and photographs, such as this one, of a Chinese woman lying next to the body of her fully-formed baby, forcibly aborted.
Western Indifference to China’s Brutality
To be fair to the Associated Press, they have doggedly documented the unfolding genocide against minorities in Xinjiang province in recent years. And yet, where was that determination to expose the truth during the decades of enforcement of the one-child policy? If there were similar exposés that were greeted with similar widespread outrage and calls from liberal publications like the Washington Post for severe sanctions, I don’t remember them.
Instead, Western governments, media and liberal “human rights” and feminist organizations and NGOs often remained silent. Even worse, in many cases the West was actively complicit. Pro-lifers exposed evidence that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was actively assisting China in enforcing their one-child policy. Meanwhile some celebrities, and wealthy, pro-population control “philanthropists” like Ted Turner and Sir David Attenborough even expressed admiration for China’s policies.
We must not forget that the US played a role in this evil through the National Security Study Memorandum 200 – NSSM-200, its past support for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and various population-control-supporting US Foundations and NGOs. Thankfully the Trump Administration is attempting to restrict funding to many such agencies and programs, and has also announced sanctions against China in response to the latest revelations.
China’s Denial of Human Dignity
Thousands of years ago, directly under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the human author of the book of Genesis wrote that when God created human beings, He made them in His own “image” and “likeness.” This statement transformed the history of the human race and created the conditions for the development of a robust theory of human rights. If every human being is made in God’s image, then every human being possesses an intrinsic worth that does not need to be earned and can never be lost. As St. John Paul II wrote in Centessimus Annus, “Human persons are willed by God; they are imprinted with God’s image. Their dignity does not come from the work they do, but from the persons they are.”
Wherever this truth has been recognized and robustly defended, human beings and communities have flourished. Where it has been forgotten or denied, horrendous atrocities have followed. The Christian West, despite its possession of the fullness of Christian revelation, has not been immune from the temptation to reject this central truth – as witnessed in such things as our past embrace of slavery, and modern-day acceptance of abortion and euthanasia.
Nevertheless, one difference between Western democracy and communism is that the denial of the intrinsic worth and dignity of the human person is baked into communist ideology. As Robert C. O’Brien, President Trump’s national security adviser wrote in The Washington Post recently: “Under Marxism-Leninism, the self-proclaimed ideology of the Chinese Communist Party, individuals do not possess inherent value. People are merely a tool to achieve the ends of the collective nation-state. The idea may sound inhumane, but it is as fundamental to the CCP as the Bill of Rights is to Americans.”
He added: “The details of the CCP’s anti-Uighur campaign are heartbreaking, but they reflect the Marxist-Leninist disdain for individual human beings. Whenever Chinese people dare defy the party by asserting their individual humanity, they stop being useful to the state and become a problem to solve the only way the CCP knows how: suppression and coercion.”
That’s as excellent an analysis of the problem as you’re likely to find. Deny intrinsic human worth, and make human beings subservient to some other ideology or agenda or measure of worth, and human rights – and human lives – won’t last long. In China, this truth is nakedly on display in the genocide being perpetrated against the Uighurs. In the West, however, this same utilitarian calculus has taken hold in our denial of the right to life of the unborn, the eugenic targeting of the disabled in the womb, and the abandonment of our elderly and disabled to euthanasia.
Human life and its immutable dignity are threatened in each corner of the globe. The question for us is: What are we all doing to end these atrocities? How are we as a Church fighting for justice for the vulnerable – born and unborn?