According to one US intelligence leader, China is building an army of genetically engineered “super soldiers” of the kind which we have so far only seen in science fiction.
John Ratcliffe, director of national intelligence for Donald Trump, said that China would stop at nothing to “economically, militarily and technologically” conquer the U.S. and the rest of the world, and was already researching super soldier technology.
One of the ways the People’s Republic of China (PRC) aims to achieve a strategic advantage over its competitors, he states, is to use the CRISPR gene-editing technique to change human embryos to breed military personnel capable of fighting harder, longer, and more effectively.
Ratcliffe wrote throughout the Wall Street Journal that there were no ethical limits to Beijing’s pursuit of power,” saying that the PRC posed the greatest danger to America today and the greatest threat to freedom and liberty worldwide since World War II.
There is intense controversy about the ethics of using instruments such as CRISPR to enhance the human genome.
When he changed the genes of twin embryos used for IVF, Chinese biologist He Jiankui ignited controversy, resulting in the birth of two children, who he believed would have a natural immunity to HIV.
He was sentenced to three years in prison and fined Yuan 3 million (£ 345,000) for ‘illegal medical procedures,’ but Ratcliffe claims that similar research is still being performed in secret by the Chinese military.
Two American defense specialists specializing in the study of Chinese military research wrote in a paper last year that there are indications that Chinese military researchers are beginning to explore their potential,” although using CRISPR to boost battlefield efficiency was only a hypothetical possibility today.
The former president of the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences and current vice president of the Academy of Military Sciences, Major General He Fuchu, is just one of the key Chinese military figures who talk about the potential of future super-soldiers.
He said in 2017 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”
With the United States Special Operations Command disclosing in 2018 that it had received some $15 million for research into the development of “bio-enhanced” super-soldiers, the US is also working on developing its own “Captain America.”
According to documents from the US Defense Department, the aim would be to introduce a new breed of soldiers to the battlefield that had “enhanced physiological performance” and needed little or no sleep among other “human performance optimizations.”
Wilson VornDick cautioned that anyone involved in such research had real risks. Speaking to NBC News, he said there could be unforeseen consequences when we start playing around with genetic organisms.”