A Response to the Report Compiled by Lin Fangfei, Associate Professor at Xinjiang University

Lin disputes that the natural population growth rate in Xinjiang has sharply decreased

Lin disputes that Xinjiang’s population growth has “dropped sharply”, arguing that Xinjiang’s 2018 natural population growth rate was higher than the national figure (6.13‰ versus 3.81‰; ‰ stands for per thousand or per mille). Rather than being related to state intervention, she argues that birth rate declines are a “reasonable phenomenon” and caused by a decreasing desire of minority women to have more children, in line with modernization and the lawful implementation of China’s family planning policies.

Figure 1: Hotan City maximum target figures for allowed birth and natural population growth rates for 2019 (2019年人口自然增长率≦2018年同期数3.89‰). Source: Hotan City.
Figure 2: Guma (Pishan) County 2019 family planning targets for birth prevention measures among pastoralist and farming populations, which include the “target” figure of sterilization 14,872 persons. Source: see note [3].
Figure 3: Guma (Pishan) County 2019 family planning targets for birth prevention measures among pastoralist and farming populations. Source: see note [3].

Lin argues that I misrepresent population growth data by falsely quoting lower natural population growth figures

Lin correctly notes a discrepancy between the 2.38% rate for Kashgar used in my report, and the 6.93% contained in the 2019 Xinjiang Statistical Yearbook (XSY). This results from a reporting difference that is found for some regions and some years between the XSY and the Xinjiang regional Social and Economic Development Reports (SEDR), which are clearly cited as a second population data source in my report (e.g. under figure 5). Given that Lin is a social scientist at Xinjiang University, one would expect her to be aware of these different data sources.

Table 1: Comparison of Kasghar natural population growth rates (in per mille) by data source.

Lin argues that the government documents I cite do not say that those who violate family planning regulations may be subject to internment

Rather than actually quoting from these documents, Lin cites from Xinjiang’s White Book to argue that these are just “training centers” that help to reform persons affected by “religious extremism”.

Lin argues that I miscalculated Xinjiang’s national share of newly-inserted IUDs as 80%, whereas it should be 8.7%

Lin arrives at a 8.7% IUD insertion share for Xinjiang (among total national IUD placements) by only taking account of IUD insertions. However, my research report explicitly and clearly states that I estimated newly added IUDs by subtracting IUD removals from insertions (net added IUDs = new insertions — removals).

Lin critiques my statement that the natural population growth rate of a residential district in Hotan City, where the Han make up the majority, was nearly 8 times higher (in 2018) as that of the surrounding Uyghur majority population regions

Lin first states that I did not indicate the data source for natural population growth in Hotan City’s Gulbagh Residential District. That is incorrect. I give the source on p.9, see full quote:

Lin argues that Kizilsu Prefecture’s 2020 population growth target is not that different from previous years, contrary to my claim that the region lowered its growth targets to an unprecedented low level

Lin cites from a government family planning document from my report to argue that Kizilsu Prefecture, a region mainly populated by Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, set a natural population growth target for 2020 of 10.5‰ (1.05%), and therefore not that different from that of previous years (of 11.45‰ in 2018). She therefore argues — in contrast to my report — that Kizilsu is not a case of a minority region where the state on purpose planned for a dramatically lower population growth.

Figure 4: Kizilsu family planning document — project effectiveness indicator table (note highlighted section). Source: http://archive.is/4AHOr.

Lin argues that the quarterly IUD check list from Kumarik District, Payzawat (Ch. Jiashi) County, that is shown in my report (p.13, table 2) does not prove that China has implemented coercive birth control measures even on Uyghur women who have had only one child

I will respond to this by quoting the text above and below that table in my report:

What did Lin and the governments in Beijing and Xinjiang not comment on?

Both Lin and the various Chinese government entities that commented on my report chose not to comment on a number of extremely important claims made in that report. Given their vigorous denouncements of both my person and my research, these omissions are noteworthy. If any of the facts cited in my work were incorrect, Beijing would certainly have seized upon that fact. These omissions are therefore noteworthy.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, I have to conclude that Lin’s report does not aim to constructively and fairly discuss the strengths or weaknesses of my work or analysis, but rather seeks to discredit it outright.

NOTES

[1] See https://archive.is/sAZOG. Her publication with the Journal of Peasant Studies is a book review.

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Adrian Zenz

Adrian Zenz

Senior Fellow in China Studies, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (Twitter: @adrianzenz)