China expands DNA data grab in troubled western region
Police in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, China, have been collecting DNA samples from citizens and are now ramping up their capacity to analyse that genetic cache, according to evidence compiled by activists and details gathered by Nature.
The advocacy group Human Rights Watch reported last month that Xinjiang authorities intend to accelerate efforts to gather blood samples from the region’s large population of Muslim Uighur people. China’s government has cracked down on Xinjiang’s separatist movement in recent years, so the prospect of a DNA database there has stoked fears that authorities could use it as a political weapon.
“Our concern is that there is widespread collection of DNA without legal protection and without telling people,” says Maya Wang, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong and the author of the report.