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China policies could cut millions of Uyghur births in Xinjiang

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China policies could cut millions of Uyghur births in Xinjiang. Chinese birth control approaches could cut between 2.6 and 4.5 million births of the Uighur and other ethnic minorities in southern Xinjiang within 20 years, up to a third of the region’s projected minority population, according to another analysis by a German researcher.

The report, shared exclusively with Reuters ahead of publication, also includes a previously unreported cache of research produced by Chinese academics and officials on Beijing’s intent behind the birth control strategies in Xinjiang, where official data shows birth rates have already dropped by 48.7 per cent between 2017 and 2019.

Mr Adrian Zenz’s research comes in the midst of growing calls among some western countries for an investigation into whether China’s actions in Xinjiang amount to genocide, a charge Beijing vehemently denies.

The research by Mr Zenz is the first such friend reviewed analysis of the long-term population impact of Beijing’s multi-year crackdown in the western region.

Rights groups, researchers and some residents say the arrangements include recently enforced birth limits on Uighur and other for the most part Muslim ethnic minorities, the transfers of workers to other regions and the internment of an estimated one million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in a network of camps.

“This (research and analysis) really shows the intent behind the Chinese government’s long-term plan for the Uighur population,” Mr Zenz told Reuters.

The Chinese government has not made public any official target for reducing the proportion of Uighur and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. But based on analysis of official birth data, demographic projections and ethnic ratios proposed by Chinese academics and officials, Mr Zenz estimates Beijing’s approaches could increase the predominant Han Chinese population in southern Xinjiang to around 25 per cent from 8.4 per cent currently.

“This goal is only achievable in the event that they do what they have been doing, which is drastically suppressing (Uighur) birth rates,” Mr Zenz said.

China has previously said the current drop in ethnic minority birth rates is because of the full implementation of the region’s existing birth quotas just as development factors, including an increase in per capita income and wider access to family arranging services.

“The so-called ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang is pure nonsense,” China’s Foreign Ministry told Reuters in a statement. “It is a manifestation of the ulterior motives of anti-China forces in the United States and the West and the manifestation of those who suffer from Sinophobia.”

Official data showing the decrease in Xinjiang birth rates between 2017 and 2019 “doesn’t reflect the true situation” and Uighur birth rates remain higher than Han ethnic people in Xinjiang, the ministry added.

The new research compares a population projection done by Xinjiang-based researchers for the government-run Chinese Academy of Sciences based on data predating the crackdown, to official data on birth rates and what Beijing describes as “population optimization” measures for Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities introduced since 2017.

Ethnic minorities in southern Xinjiang to reach between 8.6 million and 10.5 million by 2040

It discovered the population of ethnic minorities in Uighur-dominated southern Xinjiang would reach between 8.6 million and 10.5 million by 2040 under the new birth prevention arrangements. That compares with 13.14 million projected by Chinese researchers using data pre-dating the implemented birth strategies and a current population of around 9.47 million.

Mr Zenz, an independent researcher with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a bipartisan non-profit based in Washington, DC, has previously been condemned by Beijing for his research which has been critical of China’s approaches on detaining Uighurs, mass labor transfers and birth reduction in Xinjiang.

China’s Foreign Ministry has accused Mr Zenz of “misleading” people with data and, in response to Reuters’ questions, said “his lies aren’t worth refuting”.

Mr Zenz’s research was accepted for publication by the Central Asian Survey, a quarterly academic diary, after peer review on June 3.

Reuters shared the research and methodology with more than twelve experts in population analysis, birth prevention strategies and international human rights law, who said the analysis and conclusions were sound.

Some of the experts cautioned that demographic projections over a period of decades can be affected by unforeseen factors.

The Xinjiang government has not publicly set official ethnic quota or population size goals for ethnic populations in southern Xinjiang, and quotas used in the analysis are based on proposed figures from Chinese officials and academics.

‘End Uighur strength’

The transition to prevent births among Uighur and other minorities is in sharp contrast with China’s wider birth arrangements.

Last week, Beijing announced that married couples can have three children, up from two, the largest such policy shift since the one child policy was scrapped in 2016 in response to China’s rapidly maturing population. The announcement contained no reference to a particular ethnic groups.

Before then, measures officially limited the country’s majority Han ethnic group and minority groups, including Uighur, to two children – three in provincial areas. Nonetheless, Uighurs and other ethnic minorities had historically been partially excluded from those birth limits as part of preferential approaches designed to benefit the minority communities.

Some residents, researchers and rights groups say the recently enforced standards now disproportionately impact Islamic minorities, who face detention for exceeding birth quotas, rather than fines as elsewhere in China.

In a Communist Party record leaked last year, also reported by Mr Zenz, a re-education camp in southern Xinjiang’s Karakax county listed birth violations as the reason for internment in 149 cases out of 484 detailed in the list. China has called the list a “fabrication”.

Birth quotas for ethnic minorities have become strictly enforced in Xinjiang since 2017, including though the separation of married couples, and the use of sterilization procedures, intrauterine devices and abortions, three Uighur people and one health official inside Xinjiang told Reuters.

Two of the Uighur people said they had direct family members who were detained for having too many children. Reuters could not independently check the detentions.

“It isn’t up to decision,” said the official, based in southern Xinjiang, who asked not to be named because they fear reprisals from the local government. “All Uighurs must comply it is a urgent task.”

The Xinjiang government didn’t respond to a request for comment about whether birth limits are more strictly enforced against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities. Xinjiang officials have previously said all procedures are voluntary.

Still, in Xinjiang counties where Uighurs are the majority ethnic group, birth rates dropped 50.1 per cent in 2019, for instance, compared with a 19.7 per cent drop in majority ethnic Han counties, according to official data compiled by Zenz.

Mr Zenz’s report says examinations published by state funded academics and officials between 2014 and last year show that the strict implementation of the arrangements are driven by national security concerns, and are motivated by a desire to dilute the Uighur population, increase Han migration and boost loyalty to the decision Communist Party.

For instance, 15 documents created by state funded academics and officials showcased in the Zenz report include comments from Xinjiang officials and state-affiliated academics referencing the need to increase the proportion of Han residents and decrease the ratio of Uighurs or described the high concentration of Uyghurs as a threat to social stability.

“The problem in southern Xinjiang is chiefly the unbalanced population structure the proportion of the Han population is too low,” Mr Liu Yilei, an academic and the deputy secretary-general of the Communist Party committee of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a government body with administrative authority around there, told a July 2020 conference, published on the Xinjiang University website.

Xinjiang must “end the predominance of the Uighur group”, said Mr Liao Zhaoyu, dean of the institute of frontier history and topography at Xinjiang’s Tarim University at an academic event in 2015, shortly before the birth approaches and broader internment program were enforced in full.

Mr Liao didn’t respond to a request for comment. Mr Liu could not be reached for comment. The Foreign Ministry didn’t comment on their remarks, or on the intent behind the strategies.

Intent to destroy?

Mr Zenz and other experts point to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which lists birth prevention targeting an ethnic group as one act that could qualify as genocide.

The United States government and parliaments in countries including Britain and Canada have described China’s birth prevention and mass detention strategies in Xinjiang as genocide.

Nonetheless, some academics and politicians say there is insufficient evidence of intent by Beijing to destroy an ethnic population in part or full to meet the threshold for a genocide determination.

No such formal criminal allegations have been laid against Chinese or Xinjiang officials because of a lack of available evidence on and insight into the strategies around there.

Prosecuting officials would also be complex and require a high bar of proof.

Additionally, China isn’t party to the International Criminal Court, the top international court that prosecutes genocide and other serious crimes, and which can only bring action against states within its jurisdiction.

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With 9,056 fresh infections, Moscow Covid cases soar to pandemic high

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New coronavirus infections hit a pandemic high in Moscow on Monday, tripling in just weeks and forcing Russia’s capital to close its Euro fan zone and extend other curbs.

Some 9,056 new cases were recorded in the megapolis of 12 million in the past 24 hours, up from 3,000 fourteen days ago and another every day record since the Covid-19 pandemic began in mid 2020, according to official statistics.

Faced with the spike, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who has been rolling out restrictions for almost seven days, said that the city would limit gatherings and close the Euro 2020 fan zone outside of the Luzhniki stadium.

“I didn’t want to do this, but we have to,” Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his website.

“Starting today, we will limit mass events to a maximum of 1,000 people.”

“We are temporarily stopping all mass entertainment events and we’ll also have to close ballrooms and fan zones,” he wrote.

The move came a day after he warned that the city was facing another wave of infections, likely because of new Covid variants.

“It’s tripling, there’s an enormous powerful that we have not seen during the previous waves,” he said, adding that cases jumped from 3,000 to 7,000 in just days and predicting they would pass the 9,000 mark on Friday.

Over the past week, the mayor has introduced a progression of new restrictions in an effort to contain the wave of infections, including declaring a “work-free” week, shutting settings, and ordering mandatory vaccinations of people working in the service industry in the city.

Also on Friday, Sobyanin extended until June 29 a few measures that were announced last weekend, similar to the closure of food corridors in shopping centers, zoos, playgrounds, and the closure of bars and restaurants between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am.

Curbs tightened in Euro host St Pete –

Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg, the country’s worst Covid hotspot after Moscow, is hosting seven Euro 2020 matches – including a quarter-final – and is expected to see thousands of football fans from Europe.

On Monday, Saint Petersburg also announced a tightening of restrictions, including no food deals in its fan zones.

The increase in cases in Russia comes as the country struggles to encourage Russians to get vaccinated, despite the fact that the country launched a mass campaign of free jabs in December and has developed and approved four vaccines – Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona, CoviVac and the one-portion Sputnik Light.

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Chinese, Indian workers among 11 killed in Nepal floods; 25 missing

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Landslides and flash floods triggered by heavy downpour across Nepal this week killed 11 people including one Indian and two Chinese workers at a development project, while 25 people were missing elsewhere, officials said on Friday.

The bodies of the three workers were recovered close to the town of Melamchi in Sindhupalchowk district, northeast of Kathmandu, which was hit by flash floods on Wednesday that also forced many people from their homes, district administrators said in a statement.

“The foreign nationals were working for a Chinese organization that is building a drinking water project,” district official Baburam Khanal told Reuters.

The Home Ministry said late on Thursday that 25 people were missing in floods in Sindhupalchowk, a mountainous district bordering the Tibet region of China, and other parts of the country.

The monsoon downpours, which normally begin in June and last until September, kill hundreds of people in mostly mountainous Nepal every year.

Heavy downpour since Tuesday have damaged roads, destroyed bridges, washed away fish ranches and livestock, and wrecked homes.

Hundreds of people have been forced to move to community shelters, including schools, sheds and tents, authorities said.

Aid agencies said the crisis this year could add to the social and economic troubles of a country hard hit by COVID-19. Nepal has been reporting among the highest coronavirus test positivity rates in the world.

“Those who have lost homes are resting in community centers,” said John Jordan of the U.S.- based charity World Neighbors.

“This forced density raises risks for a community that has been recovering from COVID-19.”

Israel to send 1 million Covid vaccine dosages to Palestinians

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Courts cannot appoint PM, says Nepal PM KP Oli as he defends dissolution of House of Representatives

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Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Thursday defended his government’s controversial decision to dissolve the House of Representatives and told the Supreme Court that it isn’t up to the legal executive to appoint a premier as it cannot undertake the legislative and the executive functions of the state, according to a media report.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari, at the recommendation of Prime Minister KP Oli, dissolved the House for the second time in five months on May 22 and announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19.

Prime Minister Oli is heading a minority government after losing a trust vote in the House.

In his written response to the Supreme Court, Oli said that it isn’t up to the legal executive to appoint a Prime Minister as it cannot undertake the legislative and the executive functions of the state.

The Supreme Court on June 9 issued a show-cause notice to the Office of the Prime Minister and the President’s Office to outfit a written response within 15 days.

The Apex Court received Oli’s response by means of the Office of the Attorney General on Thursday, The Himalayan Times reported.

“The Court’s duty is to interpret the Constitution and the existing laws, it cannot assume the part of the legislative or the executive bodies,” Oli said.

“Appointment of a Prime Minister is absolutely a political and an executive process,” the 69-year-old embattled leader underlined.

The Prime Minister also defended the involvement of the President in this entire issue, saying that Article 76 of the Constitution grants the sole right to appoint a Prime Minister to the President only.

“According to Article 76 (5), there is no such provision of a person acquiring or losing a vote of confidence in the House being examined by the legislative or the legal executive,” he said.

Upwards of 30 writ petitions, including by the Opposition partnership, have been filed in the Supreme Court against the dissolution of the House, which they said was “unconstitutional”.

The Supreme Court has started hearing on the case. Regular hearings on the case will resume from June 23.

Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 last year after President Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the decision Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

In February, the pinnacle court reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives, in a setback to embattled Prime Minister Oli who was preparing for snap polls.

Oli repeatedly defended his transition to dissolve the House of Representatives, saying some leaders of his party were attempting to form a “equal government”.

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