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China harvesting Tibetan DNA samples for grassroot policing, population control

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(TibetanReview.net, Sep28’22) – Apart from the requirement for its grassroots-level policing system, China has said one of its several objectives for amassing DNA samples of the Tibetan people is “population control”, noted the biometricupdate.com Sep 27.

Beijing’s standard justifications for its biometric surveillance activities across the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are increasing public safety, maintaining social stability, and so on. But in the case of collecting Tibetans’ DNA — technically illegal under Chinese law — authorities have been blunt, listing “population control” among their reasons, the report said.

The report noted that in Tibet, China appeared to be using the playbook it deployed in the Xinjiang region, where DNA collection among Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities preceded a mass campaign of detention and forced labour.

The pricking of fingers has become common among groups from monks to schoolchildren, the report said, citing The Economist.

The report also cited researchers from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto as saying Chinese authorities may already have collected DNA from up to 35% of Tibet’s population.

Across the PRC, Beijing appeared to be ramping up its collection of biometric data, as reports roll in of increased surveillance and monitoring of citizens. Wristbands that track emotions; facial recognition scans used to record students’ moods; the casual cataloguing of Tibetans’ DNA: all of these scenarios would fit right into a sci-fi spy film — but they are becoming the day-to-day reality for ordinary Chinese people, the report noted.

China, already the world’s most heavily surveilled country, is pursuing even more control over digital ID and biometric data. In Beijing, 1800 haptic bracelets have already been handed out to long-distance bus drivers, to monitor vital signs such as heart rate and blood oxygen. The city’s public transport authority has plans to roll out 5,000 additional “recognition systems” to police drivers’ behaviour, the report added.

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