Chinese Military Developing ‘Brain-Control’ Weapons, Biden Responds

Amid concerns about Beijing’s use of emerging technologies, the administration adds China’s top military medical research institute to an export blacklist.

QUICK FACTS:
  • The Commerce Department added the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences and 11 of its research institutes to the Entity List, thereby banning the export of American technology to them.
  • “The scientific pursuit of biotechnology and medical innovation can save lives,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “Unfortunately, [China] is choosing to use these technologies to pursue control over its people and its repression of members of ethnic and religious minority groups.”
  • “We cannot allow U.S. commodities, technologies, and software that support medical science and biotechnical innovation to be diverted toward uses contrary to U.S. national security,” she added.
  • According to a department notice, the research institutes “use biotechnology processes to support Chinese military end uses and end users, to include purported brain-control weaponry.” Commerce did not elaborate any further on the emerging technology.
  • At the same time, the Treasury Department placed eight Chinese companies on a U.S. investment blacklist for allegedly supporting the biometric surveillance and tracking of ethnic and religious minorities in China, particularly the Uyghur Muslims in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang region.
CHINESE MILITARY, TECHNOLOGY, & GENOCIDE:
  • Treasury’s new designations come after it has already blacklisted SenseTime, China’s largest artificial intelligence firm. The administration says that the company has developed facial recognition programs that can determine a target’s ethnicity.
  • The Commerce and Treasury actions are part of a broader administration effort to prevent large-scale surveillance and control through new technologies.
  • The State Department labels China’s treatment of the Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang a “genocide.” Accusations against the Chinese regime include not only killings but also forced labor and sterilization.
  • A senior member of the American intelligence community, who speaks on condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity, says that China has established a “high-tech surveillance system” across Xinjiang “as part of its apparatus of oppression.”
  • Chinese authorities use biometric facial recognition for mass surveillance, and they collect DNA samples from all Xinjiang residents ages 12 to 65, the intelligence official also claims.
  • According to Treasury, Xinjiang officials arbitrarily detain as many as 1.8 million Muslims—mostly Uyghurs—and smaller numbers of other groups in “reeducation” centers.
  • Treasury’s investment blacklist now includes more than 60 Chinese companies. American citizens and businesses may not invest in any entity on the list. SenseTime is among the 60.
  • As for Commerce’s list, there are roughly 1,700 entities on it. Nearly 40% of them are Chinese.
  • The Chinese Embassy in D.C. did not immediately respond to the Washington Post’s request for comment.
MADE IN THE U.S.:
  • The extent to which American businesses and institutes develop similar technologies remains a mystery. At a minimum, facial recognition use and research are well underway in the U.S.
  • Other means of mass surveillance by the federal government, such as the NSA’s PRISM program, are already public knowledge.