BEIJING — China is gearing up to collect DNA from its citizens on a nationwide scale.
According to a Radio Free Asia report, local governments in China are spending millions of yuan on DNA sampling kits, testing instruments, sequencers, and other tools.
Online records of government contracts and tenders shows that U.S. firm Thermo Fisher is supplying most of the DNA instrument analyzing technology.
Authorities are believed to be focusing on identifying male relatives and building family trees.
In Hubei, a male DNA database project is expected to trace the male line across five generations, as well as identify adoptions, and children born outside officially sanctioned limits and norms.
In the RFA report, China analyst Willy Lam said the DNA collection may be linked to plans to open up the hukou or Chinese household registration system.
Any DNA database will also likely be used alongside existing AI systems, facial recognition technology, and the social credit system, making it convenient for government surveillance.
DNA collection is also being extended to newborns. In June 2018, authorities in Guangzhou issued the first electronic birth certificate with a DNA barcode.
In this instance, a consent form was part of the process to collect the babies' DNA. But that isn't always the case.
Human Rights Watch previously reported that in Xinjiang, DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types are being collected from all citizens aged 12 to 65, under the guise of a free health care program.