The police in the Chinese region of Xinjiang are still buying hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of American DNA equipment despite warnings from the U.S. government that the sale of such technologies could be used to enable human rights abuses in the region.
The U.S. government has tried to prevent the sale of DNA sequencers, test kits and other products made by American firms to the police in Xinjiang for years, amid concerns raised by scientists and human rights groups that the authorities could use the tools to build systems to track people. In 2019, the Trump administration banned the sale of American goods to most law enforcement agencies in Xinjiang unless the companies received a license. And in 2020, Washington warned that companies selling biometric technology and other products to Xinjiang should be aware of the “reputational, economic and legal risks.”
But Chinese government procurement documents and contracts reviewed by The New York Times show that goods made by two American companies — Thermo Fisher and Promega — have continued to flow to the region, where a million or more residents, mostly Muslim Uyghurs, have been incarcerated in internment camps. The sales are happening through Chinese firms that buy the products and resell them to the police in Xinjiang.