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ChinaFile: China’s Biosecurity State in Xinjiang Is Powered by Western Tech China’s Biosecurity State in Xinjiang Is ...
In 2015, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau announced it planned to purchase equipment from the U.S.-based biotechnology company Promega for the purpose of analyzing DNA and adding it to a national database, according to Chinese government procurement documents.
The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, colloquially known as the Bingtuan, is a quasi-colonial enterprise under the dual leadership of the central government and the government of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. With over 2.7 million members, the Bingtuan is “a vast farming militia” that operates many of the region’s largest agricultural and resource extraction industries that can also be called upon to support the military or police in an emergency. In theory subordinate to the local government, in practice the Bingtuan, originally founded under the auspices of the Chinese military, maintains completely independent administrative and judicial institutions. As part of its mission, the Bingtuan is tasked with increasing the regional population of China’s national ethnic majority Han in relation to local ethnicities like the Uighurs. It also works to “cultivate and guard [China’s] border areas.”
Previous purchases of DNA analysis equipment by public security authorities in Xinjiang have raised outcry in recent years because human rights experts worry it could be employed in the surveillance and persecution of Uighurs. Since 2017, authorities throughout the region have interned over one million Uighur and other ethnic minority Muslims in what they euphemistically refer to as “vocational training centers.” Various government entities manage individual internment camps, depending on the facility in question. Regional government procurement documents show that the Bingtuan itself operates some of the camps.
Previous purchases of DNA analysis equipment by public security authorities in Xinjiang have raised outcry in recent years because human rights experts worry it could be employed in the surveillance and persecution of Uighurs.
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