Is China using genetic science in racial and ethnic cleansing?

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Palki SharmaUpdated: Jun 12, 2020, 07:03 AM IST


Story highlights

Reports say Beijing is creating a massive DNA database.

China has been falling back on its claims of helping the world fight the novel coronavirus -- a virus that broke out in its Wuhan city.

First it was with test kits and medical supplies, and them being proved faulty.

And now it is being said these test kits are a tool -- a tool to help China compile genetic data.

Reports say Beijing is creating a massive DNA database.

This is important because genetic codes can help pharmaceutical companies develop better drugs.

But here's the flip side. It could also lead to genetic-based surveillance.

The world should be ready for the next privacy scandal.

To this end, the United States has even launced an investigation.

The focus is on one particular Chinese test kit maker -- BGI, formerly known as the Beijing Genomics Institute.

This company has sent more than 10 million test kits to over 80 countries.

The concern is -- BGI and the Chinese government are partners in crime.

China is using BGI in Xinjiang for the gene sequencing of Uighur Muslims.

In 2016, it agreed to create a Xinjiang gene bank, and in 2017, BGI said its headquarters in Xinjiang would include a forensics expertise centre.

In the same year, BGI studied China's ethnicities -- compared the majority Han and minority Uighurs.

Such studies could be used to justify the persecution of Uighur Muslims.

In other words, China could use genetic data to justify its human rights abuse.

And BGI is helping it.

Now the same BGI will get data from 80 countries.

BGI's spokesperson said that the group takes data protection seriously, and that it is not owned or controlled by the government.

But it has no option, but to cooperate with the Chinese government.

According to Chinese law, companies must support the government in matters of national security.

To this end, the US government has already placed export bans on two Chinese surveillance technology makers -- Hikvision and Dahua.

BGI will now continue to be under the scanner -- for using genetic science in racial and ethnic cleansing. And so will China.