06/15/2021, 17.33
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Xinjiang’s Han Chinese growing faster than Uyghurs

The difference in growth rates (25 versus 16 per cent) is due to strong Han migration from other parts of the country. For experts, this confirms that China wants to reduce the demographic weight of the Muslim minority. China rejects genocide charges, claiming that economic development in the region is pushing Uyghurs to marry later and have fewer children.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – In Xinjiang, the ethnic Han Chinese population has grown faster than the Uyghur population.

A majority in the rest of China, Han Chinese increased by 25 per cent in the autonomous region between 2010 and 2020.

Meanwhile, the Turkic-speaking Muslim minority, which, according to a broad international consensus, is the victim of genocide by the Chinese Government, grew by 16 per cent.

The numbers come from the provincial government, which released a summary based on the national census, published on 11 May. The full results have not yet been made public.

Out of Xinjiang's 25.9 million inhabitants, 11.6 million are Uyghurs and 10.9 million are Han Chinese. According to the authorities, the latter’s increase is due to migration from other parts of the country.

Independent researchers and academics interviewed by the South China Morning Post note that census numbers confirm accusations that Beijing wants to reduce the demographic weight of the region's Muslim minorities, which China’s leaders have linked to separatism and terrorism.

According to data from experts and humanitarian organisations, confirmed by the United Nations, the Chinese authorities detain or have detained more than a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz in Xinjiang concentration camps.

Media revelations have highlighted the existence of labour camps in the region, with hundreds of thousands of people apparently forced to work, especially picking cotton.

Some scholars also claim that the Chinese government is conducting a local campaign of forced sterilisations to control the growth of the Uyghur population.

Chinese authorities have denied all these accusations, claiming that the camps in Xinjiang are vocational establishments, part of projects to reduce poverty and fight terrorism and separatism.

The official line is that no human rights violation are taking place in the region, and that Han Chinese and minority Muslims live in harmony.

To dismiss the accusation of genocide (the attempt to annihilate an ethnic group), the argument used by China’s Communist leaders and some Chinese academics is that the Uyghur population is on the rise.

However, the census shows a rapidly declining population growth rate, especially in southern Xinjiang, where most of the Muslim population is concentrated.

Chinese authorities have countered this argument saying that this is caused by local economic development, with Uyghurs and other minorities choosing to marry later and have fewer children.

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