Thermo Fisher Ceases Sales of Forensic Tech in Tibet Amid Human Rights Concerns

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE:TMO) has committed to discontinuing the sale of forensic technology and equipment in Tibet that could potentially be used for individual identification, according to a company spokesperson. The U.S.-based firm had been providing dedicated human identification (HID) technology in Tibet, a region with a population of approximately 4 million people in western China. This technology, primarily utilized for tracking criminals, was considered consistent with routine forensic investigations for an area of this size. However, the company decided in mid-2023 to halt the sales of HID products in the region.

China took control of Tibet in 1950, claiming it as a “peaceful liberation” that aimed to free the remote Himalayan region from its “feudalist” past. Since then, accusations have arisen, alleging that China suppresses religious and cultural freedoms in the predominantly Buddhist region, although Beijing vehemently denies such claims.

The spokesperson refrained from providing specific reasons for the decision, following a similar move in 2019 when Thermo Fisher announced the discontinuation of genetic sequencing equipment sales in Xinjiang, another region in China. Xinjiang has faced scrutiny for alleged human rights abuses, with a U.N. report in August 2022 suggesting that China’s detention of Uyghurs and other Muslims in the region might constitute crimes against humanity—a claim strongly denied by China.

The recent decision by Thermo Fisher to restrict sales in Tibet, as reported by Axios, has garnered approval from some shareholders concerned about potential human rights violations linked to the use of such technology. Azzad Asset Management, in a letter dated December 26 to Thermo Fisher, revealed that it withdrew a shareholder proposal on human rights following the company’s commitment to cease HID product sales in Tibet by December 31, 2023. The letter, signed by Thermo Fisher Vice President and Secretary Julia Chen, mentioned that the company would implement controls similar to those applied when discontinuing product sales in Xinjiang.

Azzad Asset Management has not yet responded to requests for comments on the letter, while Thermo Fisher’s spokesperson declined to comment on the letter’s content and the delay between the decision in mid-2023 and the implementation of the ban on December 31. China’s State Council has not provided an immediate response to requests for comments.

Featured Image: Freepik

Please See Disclaimer

About the author: I am a writer and an editor with experience in publishing, research, and SEO strategies. I have an honors BSc in Social Work from the University of Benin, Nigeria.