In the study, researchers attempt to digitally reconstruct an individual’s face based on his or her DNA. At some point, the Chinese government could feed these images into its mass surveillance system – allowing Beijing to tighten its grip on dissidents, protesters and ethnic minorities even further.

Chinese police

One of the experts involved in this research is Liu Fan PhD, a Chinese researcher and professor at the Beijing Institute of Genomics. These past few years, Dr Fan has also held an assistant professorship at Erasmus MC. He started at the Chinese institute in 2015, when he was already in EUR’s employment. Two months later, Dr Fan signed an agreement with the Chinese police relating to research into this form of technology.

An Erasmus MC spokesperson informed The New York Times that Liu Fan’s position in China was “totally independent” of his work in Rotterdam. Erasmus MC added that Liu had not received any funding from the institution for this research, nor could the Rotterdam university be held responsible “for any research that has not taken place under the auspices of Erasmus”.

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