Intelligence officials in the United States have suggested that the Chinese military has conducted biological tests on its soldiers in hopes of creating an army of enhanced supersoldiers.
The disturbing claim was made in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial written by John Ratcliffe, Donald Trump’s director of national intelligence.
In his article, Ratcliffe claimed that “The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically. Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Ratcliffe suggested that the Chinese government has “no ethical boundaries.”
“US intelligence shows that China has even conducted human testing on members of the People’s Liberation Army in hope of developing soldiers with biologically enhanced capabilities. There are no ethical boundaries to Beijing’s pursuit of power,” Ratcliffe wrote.
His assertions are likely based on a paper that was published by American researchers last year that looked into China’s use of biological technology for military applications.
According to Mint, Elsa Kania, one of the authors of the paper, said that the Chinese government was using CRISPR gene-editing technology to enhance soldiers.
“CRISPR has been used to treat genetic diseases and modify plants, but Western scientists consider it unethical to seek to manipulate genes to boost the performance of healthy people. While the potential leveraging of CRISPR to increase human capabilities on the future battlefield remains only a hypothetical possibility at the present, there are indications that Chinese military researchers are starting to explore its potential,” Kania said.
According to their paper, in 2017, a prominent Chinese general was quoted as saying that “modern biotechnology and its integration with information, nano(technology), and the cognitive, etc. domains will have revolutionary influences upon weapons and equipment, the combat spaces, the forms of warfare, and military theories.”
Ratcliffe has only had his job in the White House since May, and he will likely be replaced in his role as soon as Joe Biden is sworn in as president. Biden has nominated Avril Haines, previously deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, to the role in his place.
While Ratcliffe’s claims about super soldiers are based on information from official sources, it is always important to take any “intelligence” that the US military gives to the public about other countries with a grain of salt. Governments have a tendency of making wild speculations about the military capabilities of non-allied countries during times of hostility.
Diplomacy between the United States and China has deteriorated in recent years, and China’s technological progress has become a source of fear for many US politicians. However, the government of China has been criticized internationally for its loose ethical boundaries in scientific studies.
In fact, sometimes researchers travel to China from other countries to conduct studies that would be considered unethical back home. For example, scientists from Spain worked in China with local researchers on the creation of a human-monkey hybrid. The study became very controversial when it was published, with many experts in the research community saying that it pushed the boundaries of ethical science.