US Secretary of State expresses concern on China’s rampant DNA collection from Tibetans

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Image: AP.

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 11 May: US Secretary of the State, Antony Blinken has publicly expressed his concerns over the extent of mass collection of DNA from Tibetans by China “as an additional form of control and surveillance over the Tibetan population” in Tibet. 

Secretary Blinken raised the concern during his speech at Freedom House’s annual Freedom Award ceremony, on Wednesday at Washington, D.C

Under the guise of “public security organs to detect various illegal cases, and to effectively crack down on illegal and criminal elements,” Chinese authorities have arbitrarily collected DNA samples from as many as 1.2 million Tibetans, including children as young as five as reported by The Citizen Lab and The Intercept.

Central Tibetans Administration President Penpa Tsering condemned China’s extensive collection of non-consensual DNA collection from Tibetans as China’s “cruel” policy in Tibet, while addressing the US Congress for the first time in March. 

According to Aljazeera, during a bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing via video link, President Tsering declared that China’s “Orwellian gridlock system, use of all means of artificial intelligence to surveil people, control the flow of information and lockdown of Tibet to the outside world” hampers the flow of news outside Tibet. 

Apart from Secretary Blinken, the senior-most US official to call out China for the malpractice, the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan issues Ms Uzra Zeya had also expressed concern.

“Deeply disturbed by recent reports documenting involuntary, mass DNA collection throughout Tibet, including from children as young as 5 years old,” the US point person for Tibetan issues tweeted last September. 

Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights group broke the news about the development in Tibet in a detailed report declaring China’s serious human rights violations in Tibet by systematically collecting DNA samples from Tibetans across Tibet, including from kindergarten children without the apparent consent of their parents.

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