Ethnic Muslim Uyghurs in northwest China’s Xinjiang region are being given mandatory health examinations that include DNA collection, according to residents, causing concern among some observers who have called on Beijing to explain its motive behind the mass checkups.
According to reports by China’s state media, the “General People’s Health Examination Project” that began in September 2016 and ended in March this year provided checkups for 17.5 million people throughout the region, including 9.2 million in predominantly Uyghur-populated southern Xinjiang.
The examinations were carried out on more than 90 percent of the residents of the entire region, and more than 98 percent of the population of southern Xinjiang, the reports said, adding that the project had been “100 percent implemented” in Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian)—a prefecture almost exclusively inhabited by Uyghurs.
Authorities in Xinjiang appropriated 180,830,000 yuan (U.S. $26.2 million) for the General People’s Health Examination Project, initially deploying mobile health checkpoints to Hotan’s Guma (Pishan) county, Aksu (Akesu) prefecture’s Uchturpan (Wushi) county, and Ghulja (Yining), Nilqa (Nileke), and Qorghas (Huocheng) counties in Ili (Yili) Kazakh Autonomous prefecture, before rolling out the program to the rest of the region.
Official reports said patients were divided into categories by age—infants to six-year-olds, seven to 14-year-olds, 15 to 65-year-olds, and 65-year-olds and above—and given a battery of tests that included examinations of the heart, blood, DNA, urine, and blood sugar using electrocardiograms, x-rays, and ultrasounds.
Uyghur residents recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that they were pressured and, in some cases, “forced” to undergo examinations, and that the results of their tests were stored on a computer system during the checkup.
A Uyghur official from southern Xinjiang, who spoke to RFA on condition of anonymity, said all of the…