A series of internal documents responding to a municipal internet censorship authority reveals that information related to the Chinese Military-Civil Fusion (MCF) strategy was removed from a local bureaus’ official websites in June 2018, only months after a trade war had broken out with the United States.
The Epoch Times recently obtained documents from a trusted source issued by various departments in Anshan City of northern Liaoning province reveals the requirement to remove information about MCF on departments’ websites and from official accounts on social media platforms.
However, the MCF strategy is a national-level strategy that the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has emphasized.
In March 2018, CCP leader Xi Jinping chaired the third meeting of the Central Commission for the Development of Military-Civil Fusion. In it, he emphasized further reducing the barriers between the commercial economy and the defense industrial base.
Three months later, MCF was required to be removed from official sites by the municipal Party’s internet regulation and control agency, the Anshan City Cyberspace Administration.
Although it is unknown what the censorship authority asked for specifically, the replies from local bureaus offer some clues.
The Anshan government stated that 30 pieces of information related to MCF were removed from its official website.
The Anshan City Weather Bureau said the department’s “official website, the Weibo account, and the official account on Wechat” were thoroughly checked.
The Anshan City Archives Bureau promised not to “post any information related to MCF.”
The CCP was afraid that information related to MCF strategy on media platforms could become a clue that could trigger U.S. sanctions, said Li Linyi, a commentator on China’s political affairs.
Modernization With Military-Civil Fusion
The Military-Civil Fusion strategy is said to have the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) modernize by adopting technological innovations, such as quantum computing, big data, semiconductors, 5G, and Artificial Intelligence.
The apparatus encourages not only the conversion of technology into defense applications but also commercial enterprises’ participation in the defense industries.
The CCP’s leader Xi Jinping has ordered (pdf) China’s academic, corporate, and research institutions to take the initiative in discovering, cultivating, and applying cutting-edge technologies that can help build up China’s military and national defense capabilities.
MCF has become a critical component in the regimes’ initiatives, such as the 14th five-year plan announced in 2020, the Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan (pdf) issued in 2017, the Made in China 2025 initiative published in 2015, and the Promotion of a National Integrated Circuit Industry Development Guidelines released in 2014.
In the 2017 AI development initiative, the communist regime employed commercial and military organizations to achieve breakthroughs in AI by 2025 and become the world leader by 2030.
“[The CCP] believes that artificial intelligence (A.I.) will drive the next revolution in military affairs, and that the first country to apply A.I. to next generation warfare will achieve military dominance,” the U.S. Department of State stated in a report (pdf).
Phytium, an MCF Strategy Example
Phytium, a company on the U.S. Commerce Department’s new economic blacklist, exemplifies how a commercial entity in the civil sector legally transferred technology for military use.
On April 8, 2021, Tianjin Phytium Information Technology with six other Chinese companies were placed on the U.S. Entity List by the Biden administration for their involvement in “building supercomputers used by China’s military actors,” and\or “weapons of mass destruction programs.”
On its website, Phytium claimed to focus on developing China-designed microprocessors. It used American electronic design automation tools to design its chips that were manufactured in Taiwan’s companies, Alchip Technologies, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
Phytium’s chip was used by three institutions on the U.S. blacklist—China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center, a military university NUDT, and Tianjin national supercomputer lab—to develop an exascale supercomputer, which could enable hypersonic missiles, the Washington Post reported on Apr. 9.
The hypersonic missile could travel miles within a second and reach an airbase in the Pacific in minutes, the report explained.
Moreover, according to the business registration records, the three main stakeholders of the commercial company Phytium are controlled by the regime.
The joint venture company is owned by an affiliate of the state-owned China Electronic Corp., a Financial investment company backed by the Tianjin municipal government, and Tianjin Institute of Advance Technology, a public institution controlled by the state.
“[Phytium’s] executives wear civilian clothes, but they are mostly former military officers from the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT),” Eric Lee, a research associate at the Project 2049 Institute, a Northern Virginia think tank focused on strategic Indo-Pacific issues told the Washington Post.
NUDT is under the direct leadership of the Central Military Commission, which was added to the Entity List in 2015. On its website, the military research institution said it plays a vital role in developing the Tianhe series supercomputer systems.
The prototype of China’s new supercomputer Tianhe-3 is powered by many-core processors with Phytium’s 2000 series chips, and Matrix 2000 series chips designed by the NUDT.
Li pointed out that the CCP’s aim of having the civil sector participate in defense is entirely different from that of democratic countries.
The communist regime’s use of the Military-Civil Fusion strategy enabled the CCP to steal innovation and technology for its military from the United States, Li said.
Long Tengyun contributed to this report.