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Jan. 25, 2024
Notes from the Pentagon

Report reveals new details of China’s biological weapons programs

By Bill Gertz
China’s military is engaged in secret biological weapons development that is a key element of Beijing’s asymmetric warfare strategy, according to a new report by the CCP BioThreats Initiative, a think tank. The report provides new details on biological weapons efforts of the People’s Liberation Army, which researchers say controls all civilian biological research in China.

“Bioweapons are part of the CCP’s standard order of battle; not an unconventional set of capabilities only to be used under extreme circumstances,” the report states, using the abbreviation for Chinese Communist Party.

The report is based on open-source research and Chinese military writings. In 2015, for example, He Fuchu, who was then president of the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, said that biotechnology is a new “strategic commanding heights” of national defense requiring biomaterials and “brain control” weaponry.

The Chinese military‘s authoritative textbook, “Science of Military Strategy,” includes a section identifying biology as a domain for military struggle. The book mentions the potential for new types of biological warfare to include “specific ethnic genetic attacks” designed to affect targeted ethnic groups.

China’s military is developing biological arms disguised as civilian research in places like the Wuhan Institute of Virology, considered a main source of the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

The objective of the covert arms programs, researchers say, is to weaponize biology for use in a future conflict. The spectrum of potential biological weapons includes human genome editing for soldiers, genetic manipulation of bacteria and the use of human-computer interfaces that seek to control populations, the report said.

“These research programs are not obscure ‘moonshots’; they are core strategic focus areas that are designed to be utilized over the near term and within current state strategic circumstances, such as in Taiwan,” the report said. “Any breakthrough in this dual-use research would provide unprecedented tools for the [Chinese Communist Party] to forcibly establish a new world order which has been [Chinese President] Xi Jinping’s lifelong goal,” the report said.

The report provides a hypothetical scenario for the Chinese army’s use of advanced bioweapons against Taiwan. Chinese forces could genetically immunize its own troops against a specific, weaponized bacterial strain that would be introduced in Taiwan. The bacteria could disable Taiwan’s military, thereby eliminating resistance.

The attack would allow the Chinese army to achieve total control over the island and blunt any U.S. military intervention.

This scenario is based on “known existing CCP research programs and what the clear strategic aims of those programs are,” the report said.

The report identified the Harbin Veterinary Institute and the Doherty Institute at the University of Melbourne as engaged in research with biological warfare applications. The two institutes are conducting high-risk experiments combining avian flu viruses with human flu viruses, ostensibly to develop a vaccine.

So far, however, the research has produced no vaccine, the report said.

Research with military applications also was conducted at the Wuhan laboratory. Numerous published studies revealed that joint Chinese-U.S.-Australian researchers developed laboratory-modified bat coronaviruses that were more transmissible than bat coronaviruses found in nature, the report said.

The report also said the Chinese military also published a study in 2021 on high-risk experiments with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.

“There is no identifiable biomedical application for this type of research,” the report said.

One Chinese researcher, Qi Chen, was identified in the report as director of virology at China‘s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, and “has a well-established track record of conducting high-risk pathogen research with Chinese counterparts.”

The State Department’s most recent annual report on compliance with arms treaties states that China is suspected of conducting dual-use, civilian-military research with direct applications to biological weapons.

China “continued to engage in biological activities with potential [biological weapons] applications, which raise concerns regarding its compliance with Article I of the [Biological Weapons Convention],” the compliance report said.

The compliance report for 2022 identified two locations in China where offensive biological weapons work continued until 1987. China has failed to fully disclose the extent of the earlier activities.

The biothreats Initiative report, published on Jan. 18, was written by Ryan Clarke, Xiaoxu Sean Lin and L.J. Eads.

Mr. Clarke is a senior fellow at the National University of Singapore. Mr. Lin is a former Army microbiologist now with Feitan College in Middletown, New York. Mr. Eads is a former Air Force intelligence officer and current specialist in artificial intelligence for the U.S. intelligence community.

Key Republican lawmaker hails ‘anti-woke’ defense law
Rep. Jim Banks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, this week called the recent compromise version of the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act a “blow against wokeness” in the Pentagon.

President Biden signed the bill Dec. 22 after several provisions aimed at limiting the Defense Department from carrying out some of the Biden administration’s liberal agenda were stripped out in the House-Senate conference. Mr. Banks, an Indiana Republican, said the removals prompted some House Republicans to vote against the bill.

Mr. Banks, chairman of the military personnel subcommittee, wrote in the American Mind that among the jettisoned provisions of the bill were amendments that would have prevented the Pentagon from paying for employee travel for abortion, and a measure that would have banned racial discrimination in U.S. military academy admissions. A ban on taxpayer-funded transgender surgery for military service members was also cut from the final bill.

But Mr. Banks said he decided to vote for the bill because the legislation as a whole “advances the conservative agenda.”

The law “not only gives servicemembers their largest pay raise in two decades and reorients the Pentagon toward competition with Communist China, but it also rolls back Joe Biden’s dangerous — and anti-American — efforts to politicize the military,” he stated.

For instance, the final bill signed by Mr. Biden requires that all military promotions must be based on individual merit and demonstrated performance and marks “an important first step to restore meritocracy in our military,” Mr. Banks said.

The House version of the bill also sought to shut down the post of chief diversity officer at the Pentagon. The compromise final bill did not contain that measure. But the law now caps diversity, equity and inclusion — DEI — personnel pay at the GS-10 level, between $56,528 and $71,600 annually.

Mr. Banks said that the pay level “is less than half of what many of these overpaid left-wing bureaucrats make right now” and as a result “many of them would rather get a new job than take a 50% pay cut, and I’ll be glad when they do.”

The final law also bans drag shows hosted on military bases, prohibits the display of pride flags on Pentagon property, and bans the teaching of “critical race theory” at military academies and in military training and professional education.

“That means that when Joe Biden signed this year’s NDAA, he became the first president in American history to sign a critical race theory ban,” Mr. Banks said. “It’s the best thing to come out of his failed presidency, and frankly, it’s stunning that Joe Biden signed it into law.”

Navy sends warship through Taiwan Strait
The Navy sent a guided missile destroyer through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, the first such passage since the presidential election in Taiwan earlier this month. The USS John Finn sailed through the 100-mile-wide strait in support of high-seas freedom and international law, said Cmdr. Megan Greene, spokeswoman for the Navy’s 7th Fleet.

“The ship transited through a corridor in the strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state,” she said in a statement.

Beijing has routinely protested U.S. and allied warship passages through the Taiwan Strait, asserting that the waterway is Chinese maritime territory.

“John Finn’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to upholding freedom of navigation for all nations as a principle.”

Cmdr. Greene said that no nation “should be intimidated or coerced into giving up their rights and freedoms.”

“The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows,” she added.

No other details were available, including whether Chinese warships shadowed the Finn.

In Beijing, a spokesman for the military’s eastern theater command said Chinese military vessels tracked and monitored the Finn and “took lawful countermeasures.”

“Recently, the U.S. military has frequently carried out provocative actions, maliciously undermining regional peace and stability,” said Sr. Col. Shi Yu, the spokesman.

Asked about the Chinese military monitoring, Cmdr. Greene told Inside the Ring that U.S. military ships and aircraft routinely interact with foreign warships and aircraft while operating in the region.

“All interactions with foreign military forces during the transit were consistent with international norms and did not impact the operation,” she said.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry stated that the destroyer passed from north to south and Taiwanese armed forces monitored the ship. “No anomaly was detected in our surroundings,” the ministry said on its X social media account.

Earlier Wednesday, seven Chinese army aircraft and five navy ships were spotted around Taiwan, along with two high-altitude surveillance balloons, the ministry said.

The Chinese Communist Party outlet People’s Daily on Wednesday accused the United States of using the presidential elections in Taiwan for “political manipulation” and issuing a statement congratulating the Democratic Progressive Party President-elect Lai Ching-te.

“Such practices are serious interference of China’s internal affairs and violation of China’s sovereignty and go against a universally recognized basic norm in international relations and a prevailing consensus among the international community,” the outlet stated in an editorial.

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

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