It appears the ‘mutant soldiers’ are no longer just science fiction; the emerging technologies in the field of biotechnology are being swiftly explored and tested, with genome-editing ushering in a new dawn of super-humans. And China seems to be the first nation to aggressively pursue this dangerous ambition.
The US’ Director of National Intelligence has recently dropped a bombshell, saying China is conducting tests on its army to create biologically enhanced soldiers.
According to John Ratcliffe, who has served as Donald Trump’s intelligence chief, China has conducted human testing on members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with the aim of developing “soldiers with biologically enhanced capabilities,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
In the article, Ratcliffe claims: “The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically. Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”
He warned that China “poses the greatest threat to America today,” adding that, “There are no ethical boundaries to Beijing’s pursuit of power.”
Ratcliffe will be in office as Director of National Intelligence for six more weeks before Joe Biden is sworn in as President. He will be succeeded by Avril Haines, who has been nominated by Biden for the crucial position. Haines has previously served as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
What Is Human Enhancement?
Human enhancement with the use of biotechnology has been the theme in countless Hollywood movies, where the genes of soldiers are edited to introduce superhuman features. The soldiers are then endowed with the capability to quickly heal themselves and are far stronger than normal men.
The movies such as Captain America, Bloodshot, and Universal Soldier depict soldiers with extraordinary powers who smash their opponents in one punch. The movie Universal Soldier, starring Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme, depicts soldiers who are genetically enhanced, and seemingly unstoppable.
The modern militaries will fully exploit the bounties offered by breakthroughs in artificial intelligence symbiosis, bionic body parts, and self-regenerating limbs, and China seems to be taking the lead in this field.
Reportedly, China has been turning to a technique, called CRISPR to create these mutant soldiers, which is a powerful tool in genome-editing. The evolving medical technologies are being used to alter DNA sequences to create desirable changes in future soldiers.
These concerns were earlier raised in a report last year by Elsa Kania and Wilson VornDick, highlighting China’s growing interest in gene-editing.
“While the potential leveraging of CRISPR to increase human capabilities on the future battlefield remains only a hypothetical possibility at the present, there are indications that Chinese military researchers are starting to explore its potential,” say the scholars, Elsa Kania, an expert on Chinese defense technology at the Center for a New American Security, and Wilson VornDick, a consultant on China matters and former Navy officer.
They say that China has a newly found interest in using biotechnology to tackle infectious diseases, explore the military potential, and even the offensive applications of biotechnology.
However, this is not the first time that any country has attempted to create super soldiers. The US military, during the height of the Cold War, had toyed with the idea of creating what they called ‘Warrior Monk Soldiers’ with paranormal abilities. The country is even today exploring many technologies, such as pain immunizations, telepathy, exoskeletons, and wearable robotics, to improve battle effectiveness in their soldiers.
However, scientists have raised ethical concerns regarding the practice of playing with the genes of humans. If China is really working on such an audacious ambition, they are unlikely to stop their experiments. And if successful, the communist country will see itself becoming the most powerful military in the near future.