U.S. and Multilateral Policy Options to Address Abuses Against Uyghurs in Xinjiang

One of the products seized in the US

by Connor O'Steen
July 30, 2020

(Editor’s Note: This is the second of two articles discussing human rights violations against China’s Uyghur population. The first article, by Lisa Reinsberg, discusses the forced sterilization allegations against China, the history of the practice, and its prohibited status in international law.)

Amid heightened attention to reports of forced labor being used to produce personal protective equipment, the seizure of a 13-ton shipment of hair products reportedly coming from Xinjiang’s “reeducation camps,” and resurfaced drone footage of blindfolded and shackled men being led into a train, increasing evidence suggests that the Chinese government is also engaged in a widespread and systematic policy of forced sterilization and targeted population control of ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR or Xinjiang). These allegations add to long-standing international concerns that between 800,000 and two million Uyghur, Kazakh, and other ethnic minorities are subject to extreme persecution in Xinjiang, including arbitrary detention, forced labor, and torture in “re-education centers” akin to concentration camps. China’s imposition of measures to prevent births may amount to genocide under the terms of the Genocide Convention, to which China is a party. Moreover, as discussed by Lisa Reinsberg in her companion Just Security article, even absent a genocide finding, enforced sterilization is a human rights violation infringing on individuals’ rights to bodily integrity, family, personal liberty and security, and humane treatment.