China’s “Stability Maintenance” Policy Goes Hi-tech in the Remote Far West

Over at The Diplomat, Mercy Kuo interviews Darren Byler, an anthropology doctoral candidate at the University of Washington, about how the PRC government is building a database on ethnic Muslim peoples in Xinjiang (Uyghur Biodata Collection in China):

Briefly explain why China is collecting Uyghur DNA data, according to a recent report.

The state is collecting biometric data from the Uyghur population as part of a new

                   Bianminka: Too low-tech?

identification card system. Along with DNA collection, they are creating a registry of fingerprints, blood types, voice patterns, facial imagery – all of which will be correlated to ethnicity, employment, gender, age, foreign travel history, household registration, individual and family criminal history, and religious practice.

Since the beginning of the “People’s War on Terror” in the spring of 2014, the Uyghur population in southern Xinjiang has been subject to a number of experiments in policing. The first passbook ID system that was implemented in Xinjiang was called a People’s Convenience Card (bianminka) system. The vast majority of Uyghurs, particularly the more than 80 percent that are classified as rural, were not permitted to get this “good citizen” card and thus were prevented from leaving their home counties by militarized checkpoints. The state discontinued this passbook system in 2016 and has since installed ID checkpoints throughout every town and county in southern Xinjiang. The new ID system will track the movement and communication of Uyghurs throughout every aspect of daily life. In effect, the Chinese state is weaponizing biomedicine to target and control a population of 11 million Uyghurs.

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