News and Views on Tibet

China set to purchase DNA sampling kits despite criticism

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
DNA collection in Gongkar County in Oct 2020 (Photo/The Citizen Lab)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Sept. 14: The Chinese government is reportedly set to buy over $1,60,000 worth of “profiling kits and other supplies” from Thermo Fisher, a US-based company that came under fire for selling similar supplies to Chinese authorities in East Turkestan (Xinjiang) in the past. The Chinese documents online showed that the CCP government last month procured DNA kits and replacement parts, which will be sent to authorities in Tibet. Last year in Oct., Lhasa police spent $173,000 upgrading a “3500 sequencer” device, another product matching Fisher’s Genetic Analyzer line.

“The deployment of DNA databases across the whole of China lacks elementary fundamental rights safeguards. Western suppliers should not aid and abet those abuses,” said researcher Yves Moreau, who uncovered documents through the Chinese search engine Baidu. Moreover, The Citizen Lab in an explosive report estimated that authorities have taken DNA samples from 919,000 to 1.2 million Tibetans, a third of the area’s population.

“When the police want to engage in mass DNA collection, they’re actually very open about it. They may be informing the public about pandemic prevention measures, and then alongside that they’ll say, ‘OK, while you’re here, we’re going to collect some DNA,” Dirks, a fellow at The Citizen Lab remarked. During the pandemic in 2020, Dirks found that the DNA collection in the region tripled. “Based on our analysis, we believe that this program is a form of social control directed against Tibet’s people, who have long been subject to intense state surveillance and repression,” The Citizen Lab said in its key findings on Tuesday.

Thermo Fisher, a US company was previously criticised for selling DNA equipments to East Turkestan (Xinjiang), a region where China has been accused of “ethnic cleansing” and “cultural genocide”. The company in 2019 said that it would no longer sell or service DNA equipment in East Turkestan (Xinjiang). The HRW report on Sept. 5 presented evidence of mass data collection under the garb of “crime detection” drives in the so called Tibet Autonomous Region.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *