China Reportedly Creating Extensive DNA Database in Muslim Region

Human Rights Watch says police in western China's Xinjiang region have sought millions in equipment to analyze DNA samples

Wanted posters of men involved in terror attacks posted on a street of Aksu in western China's Xinjiang province in 2014.
Ng Han Guan/AP

A rights group says China appears to be laying the groundwork for the mass collection of DNA from residents of a restive region with a large Muslim population.

Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that police in western China's Xinjiang region have sought more than $11.5 million in equipment to analyze DNA samples. Maya Wang, a researcher for the group, said the move opens the door to the mass collection of information on people unconnected to criminal investigations.

Xinjiang has seen a wave of deadly attacks in recent years blamed on Muslim separatists from the region's native Uighur ethnic group.

As part of a broader security crackdown, authorities last year reportedly required Xinjiang residents to submit DNA samples, fingerprints and voice records to obtain passports or travel abroad.