The Hong Kong government firmly denied claims of harvesting residents’ DNA as part of their efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
These claims came after the arrival of Chinese government experts who then set up a temporary laboratory to track a third wave of coronavirus cases. Suspicions arose among residents, claiming that the authorities might use this as an opportunity to collect their DNA samples. DNA collection was a local law enforcement tactic commonly used in activist arrests.
The government firmly denied these claims, pleading in a statement that the samples collected from individuals will not be transported to mainland China for testing. However, they did clarify that individuals deliberately spreading these false claims might be legally charged.
These claims may have surfaced after much controversy and mistrust between the government and the pro-democracy political opposition after China imposed a national security law, which increased international scrutiny. Under the new national security law, Hong Kong police have already collected DNA samples from arrested protesters.
According to state broadcaster CCTV, all 7.5 million Hong Kong residents will receive free testing for the virus. The report adds that the testing will be done within the few days, although the specific details of the testing drive are yet to be released.
After the successful strategies done in mainland Chinese cities like Wuhan and Beijing to eradicate the virus, Hong Kong appealed to mainland experts to achieve widespread testing.
Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong democracy activist, compared the testing drive to Beijing’s attempts to track groups suspected of doing secessionist activists, including the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang. He added on Twitter that the decision is unilaterally imposed without public consultation as China paves ways to extend its surveillance systems to Hong Kong.
In a report released in June, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said that China is building the world’s largest police-run DNA database. This database, the group claims, has enrolled tens of millions of individuals who have no control over how their DNA samples are being collected, stored, and used.
- Diet, DNA testing and Nutrigenomics for Type II Diabetes
- Signs of an unhealthy gut
- Researchers Form Link Between DNA Droplets and Rett Syndrome