Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, November 13, 2020
The Chinese government’s latest five-year plan proposal contains a birth policy with an emphasis on eugenics, a China scholar said this week.
China, known for its decades-long one-child policy, is now looking to counter its aging population by encouraging Chinese women to have more babies — but only certain kinds of women.
Among the Chinese Communist Party’s goals listed in its policy blueprint for the years 2021-2025 is to “optimize its birth policy” and “improve the quality of the population.”
“I am actually very worried,” Columbia professor Leta Hong Fincher told a panel of China experts via video link at a virtual event by the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS) Nov. 13.
“What caught my eye was that they actually use specific language saying that China needs to ‘upgrade population quality.’ They need to ‘optimize their birth policy.’ They even use a term … which is effectively emphasizing the role of eugenics in population planning in China,” she said.
She said that the Chinese government’s plans to control reproduction were part of the regime’s goals to maintain internal security by encouraging the growth of the Han Chinese, the dominant ethnic group in China, while systematically limiting births of an ethnic minority, the Uyghur Muslims.
“We see it happening in Xinjiang with the forced sterilization of particularly Uyghur Muslim women. And the language in the plan suggests to me that the government is going to continue with that,” she said.
“You have seen a huge reduction in birth rates in Xinjiang and, on the flip side, the government is also trying to coopt and persuade Han Chinese women who are college-educated into having more babies.”
The government of China’s Xinjiang autonomous region has acknowledged that birth rates fell by nearly a third in 2018, with much of the fall attributed to “better implementation of family planning policy.”
“The backdrop to all of this of course is that China’s population is severely aging. And what is interesting, worrying, to me, is that the language they have on the aging population is lumped together with the need to improve birth policy: to cultivate a higher quality population,” Hong Fincher said.
In 2019, the number of children born in China was the lowest it had been since the time of Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward campaign, the CCP’s second five-year plan from 1958 to 1962, which resulted in a famine that killed tens of millions of people.