Corona Outbreak: How China Developed Biological Warfare Capabilities
By TNV Desk-
There are at least 50 other laboratories and hospitals being used as biological weapons research facilities in China, according to a report published in March 2020 in a US journal. In wake of the Corona outbreak creating havoc across the world, here is a brief look at the history and veiled functioning of Chinese biological warfare programme that is suspected to have triggered this outbreak.
Corey Pfluke published a detailed analysis in a US journal in March, 2020(https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/Wild-Blue-Yonder/Article-Display/Article/2094603/biohazard-a-look-at-chinas-biological-capabilities-and-the-recent-coronavirus-o/) saying , “Many have suspected that China has maintained a biological weapons program..”.
Here are key excerpts from this report-
“A 2005 US Department of State compliance report noted that “China maintains some elements of an offensive [biological weapon] capability in violation of its BTWC obligations. Despite China’s declarations to the contrary, indications suggest that China maintained an offensive [biological weapon] program before acceding to the Convention(Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention known as BTWC) in 1984.”…. according to a US intelligence official, China was the biggest export violator of all, as it had sold dual-use equipment and vaccines with both civilian medical applications and biological weapons applications. These exports likely turned into the beginnings of the Iranian biological weapons program. Then in 2006, China updated its export control list to restrict 14 additional biological agents from being exported from the mainland. Despite these actions, it is still believed that China has helped Iran and other Middle Eastern nations build their biological weapons programs.
Reports from the United States in 2010, 2012, and 2014 all state essentially the same thing, that China likely possesses a biological weapons program, but the extent of that program remains unknown to the public. According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, it is clear that “China possesses the required technology and resources to mass-produce traditional [biological weapon] agents as well as expertise in aerobiology.” Today, it is likely that China’s current dual-use infrastructure acts as the basis for its offensive biological capability.
The 2005 US Department of State report also identifies two facilities that have links to an offensive biological weapons program: the Chinese Ministry of Defense’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMS) Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology (IME) in Beijing, and the Lanzhou Institute of Biological Produces (LIBP). China responds that the former is a biodefense-focused facility and the latter is a vaccine production facility. In addition to these two central laboratories, it is estimated that there are at least 50 other laboratories and hospitals being used as biological weapons research facilities.
China’s dual-use infrastructure also gives outsiders an idea of the composition of its offensive program. In 2007, China created a 20-year plant to study natural and human-made epidemics to create protective equipment for biodefense.18 It was part of China’s very public biodefense efforts. China is also known for its advancements in dispersal and delivery systems. A journal article titled, “China’s Biological Warfare Programme: An Integrative Study with Special Reference to Biological Weapons Capabilities” reports that.
It is fairly clear that certain RF have fully mastered the aerobiological technologies needed for effective dispersal of BWA, both pathogens and toxins, and probably infected vectors (insects) as well. The quality, extensiveness, and characteristics of aerobiological works—including the component of nano-aerobiology—conducted by the related facilities, unambiguously lead to that postulation. They are also able, in all likelihood, to construct the functional conjunction combining dispersal devices, various warheads and delivery systems—including surface-to-surface missiles—in terms of operational biological weaponry.19
This report makes it clear that China has an advanced capability for deploying and dispersing aerosolized biological weapons. This sort of advanced capability is especially worrying because aerosolized diseases are the most contagious type of disease and have the potential to infect the largest number of people.
China, CRISPR, and Gene Editing
In November 2018, Chinese scientist He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen China announced that he used the gene-editing technique CRISPR-Cas9 to create genetically modified human babies.23 Using embryos created from their parents’ eggs and sperm, He performed what he calls gene surgery to modify their genetics to better protect them from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) because the babies’ father is HIV positive. More specifically, He “deleted a region of a receptor on the surface of white blood cells known as CCR5 [using] CRISPR-Cas9.”24 In his statement, he claims to have used this same technique to edit seven embryos, but this was the first to result in a successful pregnancy and birth.25 Previously, CRISPR-Cas9 had never been used in altering the genome of embryos.
CRISPR-Cas9 is “a unique technology that enables geneticist and medical researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding, or altering sections of DNA sequence.”26 The CRISPR acronym refers to “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats” that are repetitions of the base sequences of DNA, while Cas-9 refers to a specific protein that can act like scissors to cut parts of DNA, allowing it to be rearranged.27 Laboratories all around the world are researching the possibility of using CRISPR-Cas9 to cure diseases and prevent other diseases in offspring, for example HIV. China investigated He’s claims and found them to be accurate. In 2019, the Chinese government investigated He for ethics violations and possible law violations. He has since been fined 3 million yuan (430,000 USD) and will spend the next three years in jail.28 His breakthrough, if truly successful, would be monumental for the scientific community, but it could also mean the start of a new threat era.
Gene Editing: The New WMD
US officials now see CRISPR gene editing as a serious threat to national security. James Clapper, a former US Director of National Intelligence, added gene editing to a list of threats posed by WMD and proliferation back in 2016.29 The invention of CRISPR has made gene editing far easier to successfully use. Clapper says, “Given the broad distribution, low cost, and accelerated pace of development of this dual-use technology, its deliberate or unintentional misuse might lead to far-reaching economic and national security implications.” The threat from gene-editing techniques, like CRISPR, comes from their dual-use attributes and the possibility that they could be used for something other than normal scientific developments. There is concern that CRISPR could be used to make genetically engineered killer mosquitos, plagues that target and wipeout specific crops, and possibly even viruses that can snip people’s DNA.
Another possibility is using CRISPR to alter diseases in a way that they only target certain genes. For example, it might be possible to use CRISPR to design diseases to seek people out with certain genetics, like those with Down syndrome or autism. Going a step even further, it might be possible to use CRISPR to alter diseases to target entire races by focusing the disease on a certain genetic trait. In this way, China could, hypothetically, build a disease that targets the Japanese and release it, without worrying about it infecting China’s own people. This may sound like a science-fiction movie plot, but it is no longer inconceivable. Not only can genes be edited, but China is already successfully doing it.”