US company to stop sales of genetic tech in Xinjiang

BEIJING (AP) – Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc said it will no longer sell or service genetic sequencers in China’s region of Xinjiang following criticism that they were used for surveillance that enabled human rights abuses, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The company in Waltham, Massachusetts, cited its “values, ethics code and policies”, according to the Journal.

The company said it recognised the importance of considering how products “are used – or may be used – by our customers”.

Thermo Fisher faced criticism from human rights groups and American lawmakers for supplying the equipment used to identify individuals in Xinjiang.

The region is under intense security measures as part of what the government said is an effort to stop extremism and separatist movements.

Thermo Fisher didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment left on the company website.

As many as one million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities are detained in political education camps in Xinjiang, according to United States (US) officials and United Nation (UN) experts.

The government said those camps are vocational training centres designed to rid the region of extremism.

The US and other governments have criticised the crackdown. In May, a US congressional commission on China wrote a letter asking the Commerce Department to prevent American technology from being misused by Chinese police.

The exterior of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc of Waltham, Massachusetts. – AP