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Thermo Fisher DNA identifiers at issue in call for new China sanctions

Categories Biometrics News  |  Surveillance
Thermo Fisher DNA identifiers at issue in call for new China sanctions
 

A special U.S. Congressional commission is urging the departments of Commerce, State and Treasury to restrict the export of DNA surveillance products to China. The systems reportedly are being used to repress residents of Tibet.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China accuses Beijing of working to erase any notion of being Tibetan. It accused the autocratic government of using DNA samples “for political identification and racial profiling.”

According to the commission, Tibetans have been subjected to at least six years of mass DNA collection, netting 900,000 to 1.2 million samples from adults and children.

That would equal as much as a third of the population of the disputed region. Some Tibetans claim theirs is an independent nation illegally annexed by China, a claim Beijing rejects.

Members of the commission have roles in the federal government adding or dropping organizations from the Entity List, which issues sanctions in response to behavior Washington wants stopped.

It can, for instance, stop strategic U.S. goods and materials from being sold to China. The commission wants the Tibetan Autonomous Region Public Security Bureau, a Chinese-created department placed on the Entity List so that it cannot buy DNA kits.

It has suggested also using visa restrictions and the Magnitsky Act, which allows the government to bedevil individual foreign government officials suspected of serious crimes.

Specifically, commissioners want to stop the flow to China of DNA products including replacement parts made by Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Thermo Fisher executives, according to the commission, acknowledge the sales to police in Tibet, but the hardware and software are used for routing police work.

The company allegedly has sold DNA biometrics kits in Xinjiang, a neighboring region of China that reportedly has used DNA, facial, fingerprint and other biometrics stamp out the indigenous Uyghur population.

Placing the Tibetan bureau on the Entity’s List, commissioners say, will make it harder for U.S. companies to be “directly or indirectly complicit in the collecting and building of biometric ID surveillance capabilities in the TAR or other Tibetan areas.”

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