WASHINGTON—U.S. intelligence reveals that China has carried out “human experimentation” on veterans of the People’s Liberation Army in hopes of improving “biologically advanced skills” troops, the U.S. intelligence official said Friday.
John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence, included an explosive argument in the lengthy Wall Street Journal op-ed in which he claimed that China represents a significant danger to U.S. national security.
“There are no legal constraints to Beijing’s pursuit of influence,” wrote Ratcliffe, a longtime Republican member of the Texas Congress.
His office and the CIA did not immediately respond to requests to comment on the idea that China was seeking to build “mega soldiers” of the type represented in Hollywood movies like “Captain America,” “Bloodshot” and “Universal Soldier.”
Last year, two American academics published a paper exploring China’s plans to apply biotechnology to the battlefield, including indications that China was involved in utilizing gene-editing technologies to improve human—and maybe military—performance.
Specifically, scholars have examined Chinese studies utilizing the CRISPR gene-editing technique, short for ‘regularly interspersed short palindromic repeat clusters.’ CRISPR has been used to cure genetic disorders and to alter plants, but Western scientists consider it immoral to attempt to change genes to improve the output of healthier humans.
“While the possible leverage of CRISPR to improve human capacities in the future battlefield remains just a speculative prospect at present, there are signs that Chinese military researchers are beginning to explore its potential,” wrote the scholars Elsa Kania, an authority on Chinese defense technologies at the Center for New American Security, and Wilson VornDick, a consultant.
“Chinese military scientists and strategists have repeatedly pointed out that biotechnology could become the ‘latest strategic commander-in-chief of the upcoming Revolution of Military Relations,’” the scholars wrote, referencing an article in the military newspaper in 2015.
A prominent Chinese general said in 2017 that “modern biotechnology and its incorporation with intelligence, nano (technology) and cognitive fields, etc., would have innovative effects on arms and equipment, battle spaces, modes of warfare, and military theories.”
In a phone interview, VornDick said he was less worried about the battlefield benefit that such experiments could offer than about the effects of interfering with human genes.
“When we decide to experiment with genetic organisms, there may be unintended effects,” he added.
Representatives of the Chinese Government did not respond immediately to a request for comments. Ratcliffe’s overarching perception is that China is a hostile foe that undermines American economic and national stability.
“The People’s Republic of China represents the largest danger to America today and the greatest threat to democracy and independence in the world since the Second World War,” he said. “The information is clear: Beijing plans to control the U.S. and the rest of the world in commercial, military, and technical terms.”
In an interview with Fox News, Ratcliffe encouraged President-elect Joe Biden to be “honest” regarding China.
As NBC News noted, Biden and his foreign policy advisors accept that China presents a significant danger, but they claim they conclude that the Trump administration gave more bluster than substance in response.
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