Director of National Intelligence: China Using ‘Gene Editing’ to Boost Military

December 7, 2020 Updated: December 7, 2020

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Sunday said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using “gene editing” to boost its military.

Ratcliffe noted that if the CCP supersedes the United States to become the world’s superpower, it would imperil “individual liberties, freedoms” around the world, adding that “free enterprise [is] all at stake.”

China is “altering DNA,” citing intelligence reports, Ratcliffe, the top U.S. intelligence official, said on Fox News Sunday.

“It’s one of the things our intelligence shows that China is doing. … The People’s Republic of China has 2 million strong in its military, and it’s trying to make them stronger through, you know, gene editing,” he remarked, adding that it’s “just one of the ways that, you know, China is trying to essentially dominate the planet and set the rules in the world order.”

Citing the CCP’s rampant human rights violations, Ratcliffe said what the world’s people “need to understand is this is an authoritarian regime,” while adding that the regime “doesn’t care about people’s individual rights.”

“We’ve seen what they’ve done to the Uighurs; we’ve seen what they’ve done in Hong Kong. It’s about putting the state first, and that is the exact opposite of what has always made America great. Individual liberties, freedoms, free enterprise those things are all at stake if China dominates,” he said.

Last week, the DNI chief wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, characterizing the Chinese regime as “national security threat No. 1,” while elaborating on human testing.

“China has even conducted human testing on members of the People’s Liberation Army in hope of developing soldiers with biologically enhanced capabilities,” he said. “There are no ethical boundaries to Beijing’s pursuit of power.”

John Ratcliffe
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe watches during a ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Dec. 3, 2020. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

Chinese researcher He Jiankui in 2018 used CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to alter the DNA of embryos of seven couples. Last year, researchers said the regime would try to use CRISPR gene-editing capabilities to alter the capabilities of its soldiers. The CCP “is pursuing military applications for biology and looking into promising intersections with other disciplines, including brain science, supercomputing, and artificial intelligence,” Elsa Kania and Wilson Vorndick wrote in Defense One last year.

“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,” they wrote.

What’s more, in the United States, the CCP has been targeting members of Congress via influence operations, Ratcliffe noted.

“To address these threats and more, I have shifted resources inside the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to increase the focus on China,” Ratcliffe announced. “This shift must continue to ensure U.S. intelligence has the resources it needs to give policy makers unvarnished insights into China’s intentions and activities.”

Ratcliffe, at the conclusion of his article, suggested that Congress needs to bridge the Democrat-Republican partisan divide to address the CCP as it is “preparing for an open-ended period of confrontation with the U.S.”

“Washington should also be prepared,” he wrote. “Leaders must work across partisan divides to understand the threat, speak about it openly, and take action to address it.”

Ratcliffe delivered the comments on Fox News after saying the results of the election need to be investigated in a more transparent manner, noting allegations of voter fraud or irregularities.