October 08, 2019

China’s Military Biotech Frontier: CRISPR, Military-Civil Fusion, and the New Revolution in Military Affairs

By Elsa B. Kania and Wilson VornDick

China’s national strategy of military-civil fusion (军民融合, junmin ronghe) has highlighted biology as a priority. It is hardly surprising that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is looking to leverage synergies among defense, scientific, and commercial developments in biological interdisciplinary (生物交叉, shengwu jiaocha) technologies. Chinese military scientists and strategists have consistently emphasized that biotechnology could become a “new strategic commanding heights of the future Revolution in Military Affairs” (军事革命, junshi geming) (PLA Daily, October 2015). Certainly, the PRC is not alone in recognizing the potential of biotechnology on the future battlefield, but the ways in which Chinese research is seeking to integrate developments among industry, academic institutions, and military-oriented programs—including through research collaborations and the procurement of dual-purpose commercial technologies—may prove striking. In particular, China is at the forefront of today’s breakthroughs in CRISPR-Cas, a new technique for gene editing that has demonstrated unique potential and precision despite its current limitations.

Read the full article in The Jamestown Foundation's China Brief.

  • Commentary
    • Defense One
    • August 14, 2019
    Weaponizing Biotech: How China’s Military Is Preparing for a ‘New Domain of Warfare’

    Under Beijing's civil-military fusion strategy, the PLA is sponsoring research on gene editing, human performance enhancement, and more. We may be on the verge of a brave new...

    By Elsa B. Kania & Wilson VornDick

  • Reports
    • February 6, 2019
    Understanding China's AI Strategy

    Introduction In the second half of 2018, I traveled to China on four separate trips to attend major diplomatic, military, and private-sector conferences focusing on Artificial...

    By Gregory C. Allen

  • Reports
    • November 7, 2018
    Human Performance Enhancement

    Executive Summary No attributes are more foundational to success in combat than the physical and cognitive performance of warfighters. Technological advantage has always playe...

    By Paul Scharre & Lauren Fish

  • Reports
    • November 28, 2017
    Battlefield Singularity

    Although technological advantage has been a key pillar of U.S. military power and national competitiveness, China is starting to catch up in its quest to become a “science and...

    By Elsa B. Kania

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia