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

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Wanted posters of men involved in terror attacks posted on a street of Aksu in western China's Xinjiang province in 2014.
Wanted posters of men involved in terror attacks posted on a street of Aksu in western China's Xinjiang province in 2014. Credit: 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.

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