Police in China’s southern Guangxi region have called on residents to present themselves for DNA collection, raising invasion of privacy concerns, media has reported.
Police have written to residents requesting they undergo blood tests and DNA sampling over a three-month period until the end of the year, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.
China’s authorities have been collecting samples from the ethnic Uyghur population in northwest Xinjiang for a comprehensive DNA database. Rights groups say the database is part of a campaign of surveillance and oppression of the mostly Muslim minority.
RFA says similar collection plans have been announced by local authorities in eastern Zhejiang, Ningbo and Anhui provinces and now Guangxi. Bordering Vietnam, Guangxi is a relatively poor region, home to a large number of ethnic minority groups.
The written notice to Guangxi residents says the request was being made to “complete minimum data requirements for policing” and to “improve population management and control.”
Mass DNA collection drives by China’s law enforcement agencies to reliably identity residents have sparked alarm by rights groups and residents over privacy.
“They are now taking the whole stability maintenance system out of Xinjiang and into the rest of China,” said Wang Dewang, a resident based in Lu’an city in Anhui province.
“This collection of DNA seriously violates human rights,” he told RFA.
China has for decades maintained an iron grip on the Xinjiang region, blaming Uyghur militants for a series of terrorist attacks. But RFA says Beijing has never publicly explained why it is starting DNA databases for its citizens elsewhere.