Using the Chinese government’s own publicly available statistics, we have compiled a dataset of county-level birth-rates (natality) across 2011-2019. We then marshal this data to analyse trends across nationalities and spatial regions in Xinjiang, before and after the 2016 crackdown, and comparatively with other countries as recorded in the UN population dataset. Finally, we place these statistics in context through our analysis of county-level implementation documents and other official Chinese language sources which have been previously overlooked.
In 1979, Deng Xiaoping launched the “one child policy” and created a complex set of bureaucratic institutions and practices for controlling population growth. Party officials rather than women would decide what they did with their bodies. The one-child policy has seen a dramatic drop in China’s fertility rate and unleashed new concerns about a looming demographic crisis. Yet the instinct to control remains. As Party officials are loosening family-planning rules on Han women, they are simultaneously cracking down on the reproductive rights of Uyghur and other indigenous nationalities in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) over perceived fears of instability and uneven growth.