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China Is Harvesting the DNA of Its People. Is This the Future of Policing?

Published: July 24, 2020
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Source: ny times

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For several years now, the police and other authorities in China have been collecting across the country DNA samples from millions of men and boys who aren’t suspected of having committed any crime.

In a report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute last month, we exposed the extent of the Chinese government’s program of genetic surveillance: It no longer is limited to Xinjiang, Tibet and other areas mostly populated by ethnic minorities the government represses; DNA collection — serving no apparent immediate need — has spread across the entire country. We estimate that the authorities’ goal is to gather the DNA samples of 35 million to 70 million Chinese males.

Matched against official family records, surveillance footage or witness statements in police reports, these samples will become a powerful tool for the Chinese authorities to track down a man or boy — or, failing that, a relative of his — for whatever reason they deem fit.

The Chinese government denies the existence of any such program, but since our study’s publication, we have continued to uncover online scattered evidence revealing the program’s enormous scale, including government reports and official procurement orders for DNA kits and testing services.

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