Royal quest: Chinese DNA tests driven by desire to find evidence of imperial descent

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Member of the Qing Dynasty. Image credit: Quora

Li Jiewen’s family might seem pretty ordinary, but according to a long-held family belief, they’re descended from royalty.

Last year, the Macau University of Science and Technology student decided to put her blue blood to the test. She bought a genetic testing kit online, spat into the test tube, sent it off for analysis, and eagerly awaited the results.

Li is just one of hundreds of thousands of Chinese people who have purchased DNA testing kits online to find out more about their heritage. The kits — which can cost as little as a few hundred yuan — are a far cry from genetic testing done in hospitals. In a matter of weeks, users can receive a digital report with a breakdown of their ancestry.

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China’s largest direct-to-consumer genetic testing company, Chengdu 23Mofang Biotechnology — which counts Li as a customer — raised 100 million yuan ($15.8 million.

Back in China, where over 90 percent of the population is Han Chinese, many people are more interested in uncovering links to royalty than exploring their ethnic roots, says Vanessa Frangville, a lecturer at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium who specializes in ethnicity and nation-building. “Most Chinese are interested in discovering whether they are related to famous historical figures — for instance, Confucius, some emperor, or an eminent warlord,” she tells Sixth Tone.

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Read full, original post: Dreams of Imperial Descent Drive Chinese to DNA Testing

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