Amid growing number of Western lawmakers accusing China of genocide, Beijing is focusing on discrediting Uyghur witnesses behind the recent report of sexual abuse, according to media reports.
In February, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) had reported on the abuses of women’s rights in Xinjiang’s ‘re-education camps’ where women were subjected to sexual abuse, modern-day slavery and forced sterilization.
To refute the report, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, during a press conference, held up images of witnesses who described sexual abuse in Xinjiang.
China also released explicit details about Uyghur women’s fertility, sex and STDs as part of a campaign to combat global pressure on their treatment of the minority group.
Chinese authorities named women, leaked what they say is private medical data and information about women’s fertility, and accused some of having affairs and another of having a sexually transmitted disease.
James Millward, professor of Chinese history at Georgetown University and expert on Xinjiang politics, said, “One of the reasons the Communist Party is so concerned about these testimonies from women is that it undermines the premise. Initial of what they are doing there, this is the fight against terrorism?”
“The fact that there are so many women in the camps… who don’t have the slightest appearance of being violent people just shows how far it has nothing to do with terrorism,” added Millward.
In January, the Chinese Embassy’s Twitter account was suspended for a tweet saying Uyghur women were “baby-making machines” before Beijing set up its camp system.
“The biological, reproductive, and gendered aspect of this is especially horrible to the world,” said Millward. China “seems to have recognized this … Now you see them trying to respond in this awkward way.”
Meanwhile, China declined to provide data on the number of people in the camps.
Beijing had initially denied the very existence of the camps, but now claims that they are educational and vocational centers and that everyone has “graduated.”
Also, Beijing has rejected calls for an independent UN investigation into Xinjiang’s internment program. Journalists and diplomats are not allowed access to the camps outside of tightly controlled government tours.