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China Has Collected Millions of DNA Samples in Tibet

According to a Citizen Lab, which is affiliated with the University of Toronto, China’s police have conducted a mass DNA collection program in Tibet. It is estimate that between June 2016 and July 2022, police have collected DNA samples from between 1/4 to 1/3 of Tibet’s total population, targeting men, women and children and even including Buddhist monks.

In early September, a report released by Human Rights Watch disclosed that Chinese police had collected DNA from people in Tibet in at least 14 locations. Procurement documents on the Chinese government’s official website show that the Tibetan police authorities conducted a public tender for “DNA database construction” back in July 2019, with a budget of RMB 10 million ($1.43 million).

Chinese authorities have justified mass DNA collection as a tool to fight crime, find missing people, and ensure social stability. There have been media reports on a mass DNA collection campaign in the Xinjiang area and a police-led national program of male DNA collection. Since the Y chromosome in males is rarely mutated during genetic transmission, having the Y chromosome DNA data of a male is equivalent to having the data of multiple generations of paternal members of his family. While in other countries this collection is primarily used to assist in criminal investigations, China has been collecting samples of male DNA on a large scale.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), September 15, 2022