The U.S. government is sounding the alarm about China’s military-civil fusion, a national strategy launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping to get China’s private companies and defense sector to work together.
Why it matters: Such a strategy could threaten U.S. national security and the integrity of international collaborations. But Beijing has failed to implement it successfully in the past.
Driving the news: The FBI is working with U.S. universities and other research institutions to investigate researchers’ ties to Chinese institutions through a Chinese government recruitment program known as Thousand Talents.
- In January, the FBI arrested Charles Lieber, the chair of Harvard University’s chemistry department, and charged him with making false statements about hundreds of thousands of dollars from Chinese institutions that he failed to disclose.
- A major concern of the FBI is that Beijing is seeking to siphon off U.S. research and technology for military use.
What they’re saying: “Under Chinese law, Chinese companies and researchers must — I repeat, must — under penalty of law, share technology with the Chinese military,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently said.
- “We are very aware of and concerned with military-civil fusion. We understand that it is deliberately eliminating the barrier between the defense-industrial complex and the civil economy,” said a senior government official in an interview with Axios.
China’s defense industry has remained largely walled off from the vibrancy of the country’s private sector, particularly its hugely successful tech companies, because of structural barriers in the economy.
- That’s held back China’s military from Xi’s goal of making it a world-class power.
- It also means private companies aren’t motivated to develop technologies that are useful to the military.
To address this problem, Xi made military-civil fusion an official national strategy and had the phrase “military-civil fusion” enshrined in the Chinese Communist Party constitution in 2017.
- “Higher ranks of Chinese military are now very interested in 5G and other emerging technologies and see real military potential,” said Lorand Laskai of Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.
China views the U.S. military-industrial complex as a blueprint for its own strategy of civil-military fusion, but the U.S. government rejects the notion they are comparable.
Read the full article at Axios.