Twitter has removed a tweet by a Chinese embassy account spreading “violent propaganda” about the alleged sterilisation of Uyghur Muslim women after receiving several complaints.
The embassy shared an article from state-run media China Daily, which claimed the “eradication of extremism” in Xinjiang, an area of China with a large Uyghur population, has given women “more autonomy”.
It said: “Study shows that in the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uyghur women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines. They are more confident and independent.”
China’s propaganda has stepped up after the several news stories internationally about their treatment of the Uyghur population. State media recently released a series of short films subtitled in English, titled Embracing a New Life, featuring Uyghur women narrating, in Mandarin Chinese, their “empowering” experiences after “re-education.”
I’ve previously written about reports that China is carrying out forced sterilisations of women of ethnic minority populations in the western Xinjiang region. More than one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are imprisoned in re-education camps. Uyghur women and other ethnic minorities are being threatened with internment in the camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas.
According to a report last year women have been involuntarily fitted with intrauterine contraceptives or coerced into receiving sterilisation surgeries, even where they had fewer than the permitted two children. Government documents showed that women in some rural minority communities in the region have received frequent mandatory gynaecological exams and bi-monthly pregnancy tests from local health officials.
The Chinese state is looking to portray its attempted eugenics campaign as liberation from above for women trapped in religious communities in Xinjiang. This is state propaganda for international audiences intended to chime with much of the western propaganda around Islam and the war on terror.
No doubt true Uyghur women face sexism within their community, which will contain its own patriarchal hierarchies. We do not trust the Chinese state to bring women’s liberation to a minority it is attempting to destroy.
Women in Xinjiang need solidarity in their struggles against the encroachment of Chinese state into their bodily autonomy, within China and internationally.