East Turkestan: US Company to Stop Selling Equipment Contributing to Chinese Uyghur DNA Database
Millions are the victims of a vast campaign of surveillance launched by the Chinese authorities. The latter drew blood samples from people in the Xinjiang region, calling it a free health check. In fact, China turned to a Massachusetts company, Thermo Fisher, to buy proper equipment in order to increase DNA sequencing capabilities and keep track of Uyghur people. On Thursday 21 February 2019, the company announced it will stop providing equipment to China.
The article below was published by The Guardian:
An American biotechnology company has announced it will stop selling to China equipment used to create a DNA database of the country’s Uighur minority.
Thermo Fisher issued a statement on Thursday following a report in the New York Times which noted the “help of American expertise” in China’s campaign of surveillance.
“As the world leader in serving science, we recognize the importance of considering how our products and services are used – or may be used – by our customers,” a company spokesperson said.
Despite its low profile, Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher is a major player in the scientific equipment market and has $24bn worth of revenue a year.
Since 2016, there have been regular reports of Chinese authorities taking blood samples in the Xinjiang region.
Xinjiang is home to most of China’s Uighur ethnic minority and has been under heavy police surveillance in recent years after violent inter-ethnic tensions. Nearly one million Uighurs and other Turkic language-speaking minorities in China have reportedly been held in re-education camps, according to a UN panel of experts.
According to the New York Times, Chinese officials presented the blood tests as part of a free health check-up program. Some 36 million people have participated, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua – more than just the Uighur population.
In spring 2017, Human Rights Watch claimed China had ordered equipment to increase DNA sequencing capabilities – which American scientific journal Nature then confirmed, naming Thermo Fisher as a supplier.
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