US Sanctions Chinese Institutes Reportedly Working on 'Brain-Control Weaponry'
The Financial Times earlier reported, citing a US official, that China was trying to get its hands on advanced technologies developed in the United States, including gene editing and human performance enhancement technologies, as well as brain-machine interfaces.
The US Department of Commerce has imposed sanctions on China's Academy of Military Medical Sciences, as well as 11 other research institutes affiliated with the academy over their research of "biotechnology processes" and "purported brain-control weaponry" for the Chinese military. Such weaponry will supposedly be able to render enemy soldiers unable (or unwilling) to fight or outright control them.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo claimed that Washington fears that Beijing will use the technology against its own citizens, especially ethnic minorities. However, the US views the technology as a threat to itself as well.
"We cannot allow US commodities, technologies and software that support medical science and biotechnical innovation to be diverted toward uses contrary to US national security".
The listing of the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and its affiliates bans them from legally acquiring technologies made in the US, among other things. According to a report by the Financial Times, citing a US official, Beijing was seeking to obtain some of the high-end technologies for itself, including technologies for gene editing and human performance enhancement, as well as brain-machine interfaces.
The fact that China is working on "brain-control weaponry" was first hinted at in 2019 in the country's official military newspaper the PLA Daily. Three reports published in the newspaper suggested that the People's Liberation Army and its research institutes were looking in the direction of the "intelligentisation" of warfare. This new form of waging war relies not on military forces' ability to "destroy bodies", but on the ability to "paralyze and control the opponent", specifically via the brain.
"The focus is to attack the enemy’s will to resist, not physical destruction […] causing the brain to become the main target of offence and defence of new concept weapons. To win without fighting is no longer far-fetched", one of the reports published in the newspaper in 2019 said, as cited by The Washington Times.
Apart from methods of controlling weapons remotely using one's brain and waging indirect war, the reports in the PLA newspaper mentioned the need to develop the "human brain’s defence towards brain-control attacks". The three reports in the Chinese military's newspaper, however, focused on concepts of possible future methods of warfare and did not reveal whether such weaponry was actually being developed back in 2019.