Authored by Shawn Lin via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Beijing has embarked on an ambitious strategy that includes taking a nationwide genetic survey of its 1.4 billion people every half-decade. The new plan has sparked concerns over the authoritarian regime's violation of personal privacy, and its possible anti-humanitarian motives.
China's Ministry of Science and Technology recently promulgated regulations for the management of China's human genetic resources, effective July 1. Almost buried in wordy statements about "filing, prior reporting, supervision, and inspection" of human genetic resources is the mandate that a "national survey of human genetic resources shall be carried out every five years and may be carried out according to actual needs when necessary."
According to the ordinance, human genetic resources comprise “materials”—substances like organs, tissues, and cells that contain human genes; and “information”—data generated from the use of the “material.”
Political commentator Zhuge Mingyang spoke to The Epoch Times on Aug. 15 about China's genetic plan.“Overseeing the Chinese people in terms of bioengineering and genetics and then threatening the whole world: this is [CCP’s] ultimate purpose," he said.
Mr. Zhuge believes that research into human genetics could affect health care, biosecurity, the economy, national defense, and many other areas. However, he said that past evidence suggests that the CCP's aims may be even more sinister or controversial.
Massive Arbitrary DNA Collection
The new guidelines mandate that those who collect genetic information must “respect and protect the privacy and rights of providers and obtain written informed consent.” However, that sort of transparency under the CCP’s rules has long been questioned.
In September 2016, CCP mouthpiece CCTV claimed that China has the world’s largest national gene bank. This suggests that China has long been collecting genetic data without seeking the consent of the people concerned, experts say.
A report released in 2022 by New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) indicated that a massive arbitrary collection of DNA from residents had taken place in all seven prefectures or municipalities of the Tibet Autonomous Region, covering the western part of the Tibetan Plateau.
"The reports Human Rights Watch studied indicate that DNA was to be collected from all residents of these areas, including temporary residents," HRW reported. "None of the reports indicate any conditions under which a resident could refuse to provide a sample."
HRW condemned the arbitrary collection as a severe violation of human rights and privacy, citing a report from a Tibetan township in Qinghai province in December 2020 that stated that “DNA was being collected from all boys aged five and above.”
“The authorities are literally taking blood without consent to strengthen their surveillance capabilities,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at HRW.
On Nov. 10, 2017, the People's Liberation Army newspaper published an article (pdf) titled “How Genetic Weapons Affect Future Wars,” saying that the 21st century has entered the era of genetic weapons.
The military article emphasized the advantages of a genetic weapon: "Since a genetic weapon is a new virus ‘cut’ with a genetic code known only to the designer, it is difficult for the opposite to decipher and develop a new vaccine against it in time.”
Moreover, as vaccine research and development races to keep up with the pace of genetic weapons, there will be a constant need for new genetic weapons.
The article also said that with the rapid development of genomics, the complete gene sequences of more and more disease-causing microorganisms had been discovered, and these microorganisms could cause a “biochemical crisis.”
“As long as a breakthrough in the genetic code is found, it will be easy to transform them into ‘bio-atomic bombs’ with great destructive power to achieve military purposes without using a single soldier,” it said.
In 2015, a Chinese military paper discussed the weaponization of SARS coronaviruses. Chinese military scientists predicted a third world war would be fought with bioweapons.
In late 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, ultimately killing millions of people around the world. The virus source is suspected to be linked to a virus research institute in Wuhan, China.
The Times published an investigative report on June 10, alleging that Wuhan scientists were involved in the creation, dissemination, and cover-up of the COVID-19 virus, in collaboration with the Chinese military.
U.S. investigators believe the Chinese military intended to turn the COVID-19 virus into a biological weapon.
Chemically Synthesized Life
China’s leading genetic science company, BGI Genomics, which has been blacklisted by the U.S. government as a "Chinese military company operating in the United States," asserted on its official website that it could provide a wide range of complete gene synthesis services, including artificially designed DNA sequences.
In 2017, Wang Jian, co-founder and chairman of BGI, said at a business conference, "We can chemically synthesize any life in the next 5 to 10 years," Chinese state media The Paper reported.
As for chemically synthesized life, Wang Jian warned that it would spawn social, ethical, religious, philosophical, and legal problems.
Genetically Edited Babies
In November 2018, Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced that the world’s first genetically edited babies, twin girls, had been born in China. The edit targeted a pathway used by the HIV virus to enter cells, and was hoped to give the babies immunity to HIV.
The case sparked debates worldwide, both about whether the approach could ultimately realize AIDS immunity, and also about the ethical implications of Mr. He's actions.
Critics said Mr. He’s action seriously breached scientific ethics; the modified gene would be passed on from generation to generation, with immeasurable potential risks. Further, the technology was used to change specific characteristics of human beings, “opening Pandora’s box,” according to Mr. Zhuge.
On the Way to Digital Totalitarianism
Mr. Zhuge noted that the CCP already has the world’s largest stockpile of surveillance cameras. Facial recognition technology and big data are a way of life in China. With the addition of a national gene pool, the CCP will undoubtedly be on its way to digital totalitarianism, he said.
In July 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce placed 11 Chinese companies on a list of “entities” subject to export controls, accusing them of cooperating with CCP authorities in human rights abuses, massive arbitrary detentions, forced labor, and mandatory collection of biometric data from ethnic minorities. Two subsidiaries of BGI Genetics were listed.
In June 2020, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute released a report alleging that China "is building the world’s largest police-run DNA database in close cooperation with key industry partners across the globe."
Unlike the managers of other databases used for criminal identification, however, the CCP government deliberately collects DNA samples from tens of millions of people with no criminal record.
“Unconstrained by any checks on the authority of its police, the Chinese Government’s police-run DNA database system is extending already pervasive surveillance over society, increasing discriminatory law enforcement practices and further undermining the human rights and civil liberties of Chinese citizens," the report said.
According to the report, beginning in 2013, state authorities obtained biometric samples of almost the entire population of the Tibet Autonomous Region (3 million inhabitants) under the guise of free annual medical examinations.
HRW disclosed in December 2017 that the Xinjiang authorities collected DNA samples, fingerprints, scans, and blood type information from residents between 12 and 65 through a free "annual physical" program.
Living Organ Banks
“The mandatory data banking of a whole population’s biodata, including DNA, is a gross violation of international human rights norms, and it’s even more disturbing if it is done surreptitiously, under the guise of a free health care program,” said HRW's Ms. Richardson.
The China director also criticized Xinjiang authorities for collecting DNA and other biometric data from ethnic minorities to track individuals, update facial recognition technology, or target other family members.
The collection of biological information may also be used to fill the organ banks of the communist regime, which profits from live organ harvesting from imprisoned political dissidents, prisoners of conscience, and ethnic and religious minorities.
Since March 9, 2006, the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong has made public hundreds of recorded pieces of evidence about the CCP’s mass genocide of Falun Gong adherents. Detained practitioners of the peaceful meditation practice are frequently killed by live organ harvesting.
Falun Gong is a peaceful spiritual practice that is popular around the world and has been persecuted by the CCP for 24 years, ever since its former leader Jiang Zemin initiated the persecution in July 1999.
Many pro-democracy activists, petitioners, ethnic minorities, and religious people have been forced to undergo blood draws after being arrested in China.
Chen Xiaojun, an adherent of Falun Gong who has been arrested several times in China for his beliefs, fled China and came to New Zealand in 2015.
Mr. Chen told The Epoch Times that in many places in China, once arrested, “the first thing they [the police] do is to take a tube of blood from the detainee.” He suspects that the police enter all the biological information of the victim into a database to screen for organ harvesting.