China’s military has been preparing for a new domain of warfare since 1996. China’s national strategy of military-civil fusion has turned its focus to biology as a priority, and the People’s Liberation Army was at the forefront of expanding and exploiting this knowledge.
In 1996, two Chinese military officers (colonels in the People’s Liberation Air Force (PLAAF), Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui co-authored a book – Warfare Beyond Rules: Judgement of War and Methods of War in the Era of Globalisation. The book in Chinese was published by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Art Press. The moot summation and advice in the book are that China should be prepared to conduct ‘warfare beyond all boundaries and limitations to defend itself.
In 2010, Professor Guo Jiwei of the Third Military Medical University in his book War of Biological Dominance emphasized the impact of biology in future warfare. The book was published by Xinhua Publishing House. The book highlighted the decline of traditional military thinking and focused on emerging trends in military thinking, the invisible battlefield, and unexpected changes.
In 2015, the vice-president of the PLA’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, He Fuchu argued in an essay that biotechnology would assume the shape of a new strategic commanding height in national defense. These will range from biomaterials to “brain control” weapons. The PLA’S Academy of Military Medical Sciences is the highest-level research institute of the PLA, headquartered in Beijing.
China’s national strategy of military-civil fusion has highlighted biology as a priority. In September 2017 as part of its Thirteenth Five-Year Special Plan for Military-Civilian Integration Development, the Party Central Committee, the State Council, and the Central Military Commission have put in motion the full implementation of the development strategy of military-civilian integration in the field of science and technology. This was done in accordance with the 13th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China.
In 2017, a retired general and former president of the National Defense University, Zhang Shino authored a book ‘New Highland of War’ argued that modern biotechnology development is gradually showing strong signs, characteristic of an offensive capability, including the possibility of employing ‘specific ethnic genetic attacks.’ He opined that biology is among seven new domains of warfare.
In the 2017 edition of Science of Military Strategy – a textbook published by the PLA’s National Defense University – a new section on ‘biology as a domain of military struggle was introduced. This section, reportedly, discusses new potential kinds of biological warfare including ‘specific ethnic genetic attacks.’
China’s advances in biotechnology and genetic engineering hold worrying implications for military affairs. The Chinese military’s interest in weaponizing biotechnology in these gets reflected through its strategic writings and research, which consistently have argued that advances in biology are contributing to changing the form or character of conflict.
China weaponized the coronavirus in Wuhan Virology Lab. It is no secret that the Wuhan Institute of Virology, houses China’s only P4-Level Biosafety Laboratory capable of storing, studying, or engineering Pathogen Level 4 microbes such as other coronaviruses, Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS, H5N1 influenza virus, Japanese encephalitis, and dengue.
Prof. Shi Zhengli is one of China’s most formidable virologists. She is a researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. She had published findings of some startling facts in her report in 2007:
Following these lines of thinking of weaponizing biotechnology, the PLA is pursuing military applications for biology and looking into promising intersections with other disciplines, including brain science, supercomputing, and artificial intelligence. Reportedly, since 2016, the Central Military Commission has funded projects on military brain science, advanced biomimetic systems, biological and biomimetic materials, human performance enhancement, and “new concept” biotechnology.
China has geared itself for biowarfare. Coronavirus is China’s weaponized bioweapon. It will be increasingly important for India and other nations to keep a check on the Chinese military’s interest in biology as an emerging domain of warfare, guided by strategists who talk about potential “genetic weapons” and the possibility of a “bloodless victory.”