2017 - Today

Since 2017, the Chinese government under the Xi Jinping Administration has pursued a policy which has led to more than one million Muslims (the majority of them Uyghurs) being held in secretive detention camps without any legal process. Critics of the policy have described it as the sinicization of Xinjiang and have called it an ethnocide or cultural genocide, while many activists, independent NGOs, human rights experts, government officials and the East Turkistan Government-in-Exile have called it a genocide.

In particular, critics have highlighted the concentration of Uyghurs in state-sponsored re-education camps, suppression of Uyghur religious practices, political indoctrination, severe ill-treatment, and testimonials of alleged human rights abuses including forced sterilization and contraception. Chinese government statistics show that from 2015 to 2018, birth rates in the mostly Uyghur regions of Hotan and Kashgar plunged by more than 60%. In the same period, the birth rate of the whole country decreased by 9.69%, from 12.07 to 10.9 per 1,000 people. Chinese authorities acknowledged that birth rates dropped by almost a third in 2018 in Xinjiang, but denied reports of forced sterilization and genocide. Birth rates have continued to plummet in Xinjiang, falling nearly 24% in 2019 alone when compared to just 4.2% nationwide.

International reactions have been mixed, with 54 United Nations (UN) member states supporting China’s policies in Xinjiang, which decreased to 45 in October 2020, and 39 countries condemning China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang. In July and August 2020, human rights groups have called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate Chinese officials over allegations of crimes against humanity and genocide.

In December 2020, the ICC declined to take investigative action against China, on the basis that it did not have jurisdiction over China with respect to the majority of the alleged crimes. The ICC also ruled in a separate assessment that transfers of Uyghurs to China from Cambodia and Tajikistan, both ICC members, did not constitute the crime against humanity of deportation.