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China’s mass DNA database on citizens set to expand with $8.7 million in new equipment – China latest political and current affairs news


Human Rights Watch released a report on May 15 claiming that China’s database of citizen DNA information has expanded beyond 40 million entries. While still accounting for only 3 percent of Chinese citizens — for comparison, the U.S. has DNA records on 4 percent of its citizens and the U.K. has 8 percent — the database is now the world’s largest of its kind. Furthermore, the report also brings together evidence on a number of data collection events conducted “without oversight, transparency, or privacy protections” under the authority of Article 130 of the Criminal Procedure Law — but many, if not most, entries are not of criminals or directly related to a criminal case.

One piece of evidence from the report, that authorities in restive Xinjiang Province in western China purchased $8.7 million in DNA testing equipment for a large-scale collection, has been confirmed to the Associated Press by state security officials. Human Rights Watch also reported the purchase of an additional $2.9 million in equipment. A computational biologist told the AP that such equipment “could be used to profile up to 10,000 DNA samples a day and several million a year.” Last year, the authorities in Xinjiang began requiring residents — a plurality of which identify as Uyghur Muslims — to submit DNA samples and other personal data to apply for a passport.


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Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.