Bio-Security an apparatus of control being implemented in an accelerated pace in China occupied Tibet instigates Tibetans to forfeit their life.

Tenzing Dhamdul Research Associate, FNVA, New Delhi

by Team FNVA


Since 1949 when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established, it kick started the occupation of Tibet and China’s expansionist drive under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Yet even with the naked eye one can witness since the 7th Tibet Work Forum, which was held from August 29-30, 2020 – the level of repression and oppression has drastically increased and is at an unprecedented rise currently. The recent report by Human Rights Watch mentions the arbitrary collection of DNAs from residents in several towns and villages throughout Tibet and the so called Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in particular, including the areas of Chusul, Lhasa, Bayi, Nedong, Gyatsa. Furthermore, new reports also indicate and is verified by the Radio Free Asia that more than 25% of Tibetans DNAs have been collected.

On top of this, there is the ongoing Zero-Covid Policy in Tibet which has instigated the dead of 5 Tibetans according to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD). Highlighting the severity of the situation in Tibet right now.

This development clearly indicates that China, now having confidence in its technological surveillance is moving into the next phase of its repressive and authoritative policy of Bio-Security. This policy involves the creation of a biological database of people so that they can be monitored beyond the confines of technology. Thereby creating a net of surveillance that is both artificial and technological, something which renowned thinker Michael Foucault mentioned when elaborating on Bio-Power and how States, authoritarian states in particular would utilize to bring stability for themselves rather than the people whom they serve.


Mass DNA collection in Tibet:

The collection of genetic material is not new to China as its ministry of public security runs the world’s largest forensic DNA database, which probably contains more than 100m profiles. This activity involves gathering samples from criminal suspects or victims of crime, similar to what western countries do. But since 2017 Beijing under the leadership of Xi Jinping has transformed the functioning of this activity and launched a campaign to collect DNA from 10% of all Chinese men with the sole purpose to trace a man’s male relative. This move was decried by several activists as they saw it as a means through which a perceived troublemakers would be punished and threatened by involving his parents and family. 

This change in attitude, intention and ploy were a modus operandi by Beijing especially in the occupied regions. For Tibetans it was common knowledge that if you have family and links in Tibet, you must be apolitical even if you are personally far away from the direct clutches of Beijing’s authoritarian rule. The reason being that your family members were immediately questioned, threatened and even sentenced due to your actions that occurs far beyond the jurisdiction of Beijing. In 2018, a former Tibetan political prisoner, Tenzin Woeser who crossed the Himalayas and sought refuge was subject to mental torture personally and saw physical violence acted upon his mother in Tibet by the Chinese authorities. For more than a fortnight his mother was forcefully held in detention and demanded that her son return to Tibet. This is just one of many incidents whereby not only Tibetans but those under the current Chinese Communist party (CCP) comes across in their day-to-day life.

Now the party-state (CCP effectively rules the nation and hence the term party-state) moving in its next repressive and oppressive phase, implements Bio-security as an agency to control the population, specifically those in the occupied regions of Tibet, East Turkistan and Southern Mongolia being targeted. We already have seen the horrors of Bio-security as China used biological means to sterilize thousands of Uighurs Muslims. And the recent mass DNA collection drive reported in Tibet by the Human Rights Watch which identifies such drives in 14 distinct localities across 7 prefectural-level areas indicate how wide this project is already under the current regime.

A recent article by Katherine Irving in the science magazine ‘The Scientist’ mentions how the very technology and know-how of such DNA collection being implemented in China occupied Tibet was made possible by the American lab-based company ‘Thermo Fisher’. This is not the first dealing that the company had with Chinese authorities as in 2019 it was supplying such biological kits and know-hows in East Turkistan, thereby playing a vital role in the establishment of biological surveillance to the Uighur Muslims. 

The Sikyong (president) of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) also popularly known as the Tibetan Government in Exile (TGiE) in his congratulatory note to the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights not only congratulated Mr. Volker Turk but also highlighted the mass arbitrary collection of DNA in Tibet. Thereby underlining the severity of such measures that infringes upon the very human body biologically.


Zero-Covid Policy and Tibetans dying physically:

The Zero-Covid policy has been implemented in PRC’s governed territories with the state describing it as a champion policy by president Xi Jinping. This was meant to save the live and prevent the further spread of the Covid pandemic which originated from Wuhan, China. Yet the underlying facts remain how due to this very policy there was first mass uproar from the mainland Chinese in the big city Shanghai, with videos in twitter depicting the harsh reality of this policy.

This policy has now been notched up further in Tibet as besides the strict quarantine measures, the government facilities which are said to harbor the Covid positive patients are well below standard health requirements. Likewise, “the food provided are worse than those given to animals and very unhygienic” according to a Tibetan in Tibet, whose video posits these very facts.

The buck does not stop here, as it only gets worse and this very policy which was said to protect lives is pushing Tibetans to dead. A grotesque video of a Tibetan jumping from his top-floor building and instantly passing away just to escape the harsh realities of this unwarranted means of Zero-Covid policy measures in Tibet underlines how Tibetans are being treated as inferior people in their own land.


Security blanket in the run up of the 20th National People’s Congress:

The timing of these and other drives which coincides with a) The application of directives from the 7th Tibet Work Forum and b) The lead up to the 20th National People’s Congress highlights very clearly how the actions from Beijing were carefully planned and, in many ways, is going according to plan as well. 

The ultimate goal of the recent revealed mass DNA collection drive without the consent of Tibetans, is to keep the Tibetans busy and engaged so that they, along with the millions of Chinese who continue to be unhappy and resent the communist government in its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic with its zero-covid policy would not come together and form a united entity protesting against the regime. Notably with the 20th National People’s Congress just around the corner, one expects and can conclude that Beijing especially President Xi Jinping wants to have a smooth meeting that will eventually see him elected as the president for an unprecedented 3rd term.

On top of this prevailing context, Beijing has optimized the given opportunity and went ahead with its two-pronged security blanket, one that sees it transcending the Skynet like surveillance already in place. This new security apparatus covers loopholes of the prevailing technological centric structure and sets an unwanted precedent and template that would likely be carried forward and implemented in the Chinese mainland and its Han people as well. Such an action has time and again been practiced by Beijing, whereby projects in Tibet, which are repressive and oppressive if successful are implemented beyond Tibet including its very own Han people as well. The recent abduction of Peng Shuai and other prominent Chinese of recent years has been adopted because these activities have and continues to take place in Tibet without any apparent pushback. The abduction of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima when he was 6 years old and continues to remain in incognito, spotlights how Beijing gains confidence from its repressive initiatives in Tibet and its occupied regions.



In a nutshell, we are witnessing gulag and gestapo like polices being implemented in Tibet. A callback to an era where colonization was present with total disregard to the lives of Tibetans. If we are to ever do away with the dark ages of colonization, which saw oppression, genocide and killings at such a grand scale, we must stand united and call out China, in particular the Chinese Communist Party for its blatant actions in embracing such Bio-Security measures which totally disregards the core of humanity.



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