By Lawrence Sellin and Anna Chen | October 27, 2021

China is preparing for biological warfare and is mobilizing all its military and civilian resources in that effort.

The recently translated Chinese Communist Party’s 2021 14th Five-year Plan National Key Research and Development Program has a subsection “Research on pathogenesis and epidemic prevention technology system,” which states a goal to:

Establish a real-time information analysis and early warning mechanism based on the pathogen database to be able to analyze the variation and evolution of known epidemic pathogens in peacetime, and to be able to respond quickly to emergent pathogens and analyze the variation and evolution of pathogens in wartime.

The program will identify “8-10 pathogens” and “establish a combination of civilian and combat pathogen data monitoring and analysis application system.”

The 14th Five Year Plan goals are the culmination and extension of the 2016 13th Five-Year Plan’s Science and Technology Military-Civilian Fusion Program, which was launched by the Scientific and Technical Committee affiliated with the Central Military Commission.

That program incorporated all Chinese universities, pharmaceutical companies and “civilian” research centers, like the Wuhan Institute of Virology, into the People’s Liberation Army’s biotechnology warfare effort.

The research and development tasks outlined in the 2021 14th Five Year Plan are:

  1. Discovery of pathogenic mechanisms and targets for the transmission of major infectious diseases,
  2. Discovery, traceability and early warning prediction of major infectious disease pathogens,
  3. Research on novel vaccine design and platform system,
  4. Clinical control of major infectious diseases,
  5. The establishment of an integrated system for the prevention and control of major emerging and emergent infectious diseases.

A Key Project of the Chinese Communist Party’s The 14th Five Year Plan is “Biotechnology and Information Technology Fusion (BT and IT Fusion),” the target areas being:

  1. Development of information storage systems based on DNA principles
  2. Construction and development of intelligent biological systems for life-non-life integration
  3. Demonstration of the application of BT and IT convergence technology in health medicine scenarios

According to the translated documents, the goals of the Key Project, which incorporates the use of artificial intelligence, are:

build DNA storage, brain-like intelligence and human-computer interaction, biological knowledge mapping, programmable cellular intelligence, intelligent medical and other cross-fertilization technologies, and promote big data-driven life science knowledge discovery and transformation applications; spawn a number of life and health-oriented disruptive new technologies, and promote the development of new economic models.

All the data-driven research described in China’s 14th Five Year Plan “involves the collection, conservation, utilization and provision of human genetic resources.”

Although China will attempt to “achieve full coverage of pathogenic research including viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites,” the “core targets are important respiratory viruses such as coronaviruses and influenza viruses,” for which molecular biology will be used “to analyze the key factors affecting the transmission of viruses.”

Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed China’s ambitions in regard to biotechnology-information technology fusion and its applications in biological warfare.

Unfortunately for us, the U.S. government is asleep at the wheel.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. He had a civilian career in international business and medical research. His email address is Anna Chen can be followed on Twitter @2020Gladiator