The official line from Chinese authorities is that DNA collection drives assist with efforts to “crack down on illegal and criminal elements” in the region. In reality, they are part of efforts by Chinese authorities to establish police presence at the grassroots level.
These Chinese government drives collect DNA information from everyone, regardless of whether they are linked to a criminal investigation. The drives do not appear to require informed consent or explanation of why DNA samples are sought.
From what we know, people cannot decline providing their DNA to police, and authorities do not need evidence of criminal conduct to warrant such collection.
And it’s not just Tibet.
In 2017, we reported on
how Chinese authorities in the Xinjiang region were collecting DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types of all residents between the age of 12 and 65, ostensibly for a “public health” program. As in Tibet, there was no indication that residents in Xinjiang could opt out of the data collection.