US' ban on DNA equipment over lies about Xinjiang will only help local firms: experts
Move another way to target China, will only help local firms: experts
Published: Jun 16, 2021 09:18 PM

Children play in a lavender farm in Huocheng County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, June 13, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)

Children play in a lavender farm in Huocheng County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, June 13, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)

A US blockade on sales of DNA equipment and related products to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region would be just another way for US politicians to target China over widely debunked lies about Xinjiang, and it will only speed the rise of domestic substitutes, Chinese industry insiders and experts said on Wednesday.

The comments came as some US politicians and experts called on the US government to toughen supervision of US exports to China, especially Xinjiang, after news reports that a large amount of DNA equipment produced by US companies had still flowed to Xinjiang despite restrictions. 

The New York Times reported that hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of DNA equipment produced by Thermo Fisher and Promega, two US biochemistry giants, were still sold to China despite US government efforts to prevent such transactions based on claims that those products might be used by local authorities to track people.

Chinese experts noted that sales of DNA equipment are normal among countries and that US politicians' and media outlets' claims of human rights abuses in Xinjiang have been widely debunked and proven to be lies. 

A customer service staffer at Thermo Fisher said on Wednesday that the company's exports to the Chinese market were "all normal at the present."

"Many Chinese customers approached us directly to place orders, and products sell well," she said. The person said that she wasn't clear about the US export ban on DNA sequencers or other products to China. 

The reported flow of US-made DNA equipment to Xinjiang drew criticism from some anti-China US politicians. The New York Times, for example, cited US Senator Marco Rubio as calling on the US government to "use all tools at their disposal" to prevent US companies from selling surveillance equipment or other technologies to any Chinese security forces. 

Chinese experts and industry sources criticized the US for using any "excuses or means" to just crack down on China and stressed that such a blockade would only help China to develop its own technologies and products at a faster speed. 

In terms of genetic testing products, Chinese companies already have the capacity to supply the domestic market, Tian Hongjian, a director with the China Medicinal Biotech Association, told the Global Times. 

According to Tian, although China has relied on imports from Europe and the US in terms of genetic testing reagents for some time, Chinese companies have launched many similar products. Although these may be somewhat less precise than US products, they can fully meet market demand. 

"China can produce enough biological reagent products, and many of the US' advanced biological reagent companies have set up plants in China. The US toughening controls on exports of those products to China will only push Chinese companies to gradually replace US firms in domestic supplies," Tian said.

For instance, as early as 2015, Chinese genetic research company BGI Group had launched its own DNA sequencer, which was based on the company's self-developed Complete Genomics technology. 

Also, Chinese provinces are already moving to reduce reliance on imports of US medical products amid deteriorating US-China bilateral relations. South China's Guangzhou Province, for example, reduced the categories of medical equipment imports from 132 to 46 in a recently published list. 

The Chinese government also issued a guideline recently to support South China's Hainan Province to make advanced medical facilities. 

Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, said that the US crackdown would prompt Chinese companies to speed up technological research to fulfill the gap left by US companies that are being pressured out of the Chinese markets by US politics.

"The more the US government blocks US companies from Chinese consumers, the faster Chinese companies will replace them. Market demand is the biggest driver of innovation," Cong told the Global Times on Wednesday.

US politicians are following a short-sighted strategy to cater to anti-China sentiment, but US companies will lose market share in the long run in China, he said.