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China uses coercive policies in Xinjiang to drive down Uyghur birth rates

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Coercive policies in China’s far western region of Xinjiang have led to a sharp decline in birth rates for Uyghurs and other minorities, which could add to evidence of genocide, an Australian think tank said in a report released on Wednesday.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report, citing official Chinese data, said that there has been an “unprecedented and precipitous drop in official birth-rates in Xinjiang since 2017,” when China began a campaign to control birth rates in the region.

Xinjiang’s birth rate dropped by nearly half from 2017 to 2019, and counties where the population was predominately Uyghur or another minority group saw much sharper declines than other counties, the government-funded institute said in the report.

China maintains that changes in birth rates are linked to improved health and economic policy and it strongly rejects accusations of genocide.

ASPI “fabricates data and distorts facts,” Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, told a daily news briefing in Beijing on Thursday.

Xinjiang’s Uyghur population grew faster than that of the Han between 2010 and 2018, and Xinjiang’s birth control policies do not target any single ethnic minority group, she said.

The ASPI analysis is based on Chinese government data, including regional population figures released in March.

“Our analysis builds on previous work and provides compelling evidence that Chinese government policies in Xinjiang may constitute an act of genocide,” it said.

The ASPI report said birth rates in counties with a 90 percent or greater indigenous population declined by an average of 56.5 percent from 2017 to 2018, far more than other regions in Xinjiang and China during the same period.

Fines, internment, or the threat of internment, were among the methods used by authorities to discourage births, it said.

There have been growing calls among some western states for an investigation into whether Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang amount to genocide.

The United States government and parliaments in countries including Britain and Canada have described China’s policies in Xinjiang as genocide.

According to the 1948 U.N. Genocide Convention, there would need to be proof of intent by Beijing to destroy an ethnic population in part to meet that determination.

Rights groups, researchers, former residents and some western lawmakers say Xinjiang authorities have arbitrarily detained around a million Uyghurs and other primarily Muslim minorities in a network of camps since 2016.

Beijing initially denied the camps existed but has since said they are vocational training centres designed to combat religious extremism, and that all people in the centres have “graduated”.

(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Additional reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Neil Fullick & Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Trudeau says he discussed border with Biden, but no deal

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he has spoken with U.S. President Joe Biden about how to lift pandemic-related border restrictions between the two countries but made clear no breakthrough has been achieved.

U.S. and Canadian business leaders have voiced increasing concern about the ban on non-essential travel in light of COVID-19 that was first imposed in March 2020 and renewed on a monthly basis since then. The border measures do not affect trade flows.

The border restrictions have choked off tourism between the two countries. Canadian businesses, especially airlines and those that depend on tourism, have been lobbying the Liberal government to relax the restrictions.

Canada last week took a cautious first step, saying it was prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July.

Trudeau, speaking after a Group of Seven summit in Britain, said he had talked to Biden “about coordinating measures at our borders as both our countries move ahead with mass vaccination.” Canada is resisting calls for the border measures to be relaxed, citing the need for more people to be vaccinated.

The United States is ahead of Canada in terms of vaccination totals.

“We will continue to work closely together on moving forward in the right way but each of us always will put at the forefront the interests and the safety of our own citizens,” Trudeau told a televised news conference when asked the Biden conversation.

“Many countries, like Canada, continue to say that now is not the time to travel,” Trudeau added, though he said it is important to get back to normalcy as quickly as possible.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Man with 39 wive dies in India

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A 76-year-old man who had 39 wives and 94 children and was said to be the head of the world’s largest family has died in north east India, the chief minister of his home state said.

Ziona Chana, the head of a local Christian sect that allows polygamy, died on Sunday, Zoramthanga, the chief minister of Mizoram and who goes by one name, said in a tweet.

With a total of 167 members, the family is the world’s largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether you count the grandchildren, of whom Ziona has 33.

Winston Blackmore, the head of a polygamous Mormon sect in Canada, has around 150 children from 27 wives – 178 people in total.

Ziona lived with his family in a vast, four-story pink structure with around 100 rooms in Baktawng, a remote village in Mizoram that became a tourist attraction as a result, according to Zoramthanga.

The sect, named “Chana”, was founded by Ziona’s father in 1942 and has a membership of hundreds of families. Ziona married his first wife when he was 17, and claimed he once married ten wives in a single year.

They shared a dormitory near his private bedroom, and locals said he liked to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.

Despite his family’s huge size, Ziona told Reuters in a 2011 interview he wanted to grow it even further.

“I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry,” he said.

“I have so many people to care for and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man.”

 

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal and Adnan Abidi in New Delhi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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Huawei CFO seeks publication ban on HSBC documents in U.S. extradition case

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Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on Monday will seek to bar publication of documents her legal team received from HSBC, a request opposed by Canadian prosecutors in her U.S. extradition case who say it violates the principles of open court.

Meng’s legal team will present arguments in support of the ban in the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States, where she faces charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran and potentially causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions on business in Iran.

She has been under house arrest in Vancouver for more than two years and fighting her extradition to the United States. Meng has said she is innocent.

Lawyers for Huawei and HSBC in Hong Kong agreed to a release of the documents in April to Meng’s legal team on the condition that they “use reasonable effort” to keep confidential information concealed from the public, according to submissions filed by the defense on Friday.

Prosecutors representing the Canadian government argued against the ban, saying in submissions filed the same day that “to be consistent with the open court principle, a ban must be tailored” and details should be selectively redacted from the public, rather than the whole documents.

A consortium of media outlets, including Reuters News, also opposes the ban.

The open court principle requires that court proceedings be open and accessible to the public and to the media.

It is unclear what documents Huawei obtained from HSBC, but defense lawyers argue they are relevant to Meng’s case.

Meng’s hearing was initially set to wrap up in May but Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes granted an extension to allow the defense to read through the new documents.

Hearings in the extradition case are scheduled to finish in late August.

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Howard Goller)

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