American companies like Thermo Fisher have helped Chinese DNA collection so the authoritarian country can track Uighurs (via The New York Times).
In a statement, the Xinjiang government denied that it collects DNA samples as part of the free medical checkups. It said the DNA machines that were bought by the Xinjiang authorities were for “internal use.”
China has for decades maintained an iron grip in Xinjiang. In recent years, it has blamed Uighurs for a series of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China, including a 2013 incident in which a driver struck two people in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
The government collected the DNA under the guise of a program called “Physicals for All.” But in some cases the DNA collection wasn’t voluntary. Local police called or sent texts saying the physical examination was required.
Thermo Fisher, a company based in Massechusetts, told NYT it wouldn’t sell equipment in Xinjiang anymore. Dr. Kenneth Kidd, a geneticist at Yale University, had provided genetic material but said he didn’t know how it was used.
Senator Marco Rubio and others asked the Commerce Department to stop American companies from selling technology to China that could be used “for purposes for surveillance and tracking.”