Pentagon Making Race-Specific Bioweapons to Target Citizens, China Says
By Isabel van Brugen,2023-05-11
China accused the United States on Wednesday of developing race-specific bioweapons to target citizens.
Speaking with reporters, Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry slammed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken for saying a day earlier that China is collecting human genomic data against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet as an additional form of control and surveillance.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party has targeted Xinjiang's Turkic-speaking Uyghur population , ethnic minorities such as the Tibetans , and religious believers who remain outside state control, for transformation through "re-education."
Blinken said Tuesday the U.S. is "concerned" by reports of the spread of mass DNA collection to Tibet as an additional form of control and surveillance over the Tibetan population.
"These claims do not hold water and mean nothing except manufacturing sensational news items," Wang said of Blinken's comments. "China is a country governed by law. The privacy of all Chinese citizens, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, are protected by law."
The U.S., Wang said, "widely collects and uses genomic information."
"According to The Wall Street Journal , the Pentagon has formulated [research and development] plans for hitting opponents with genetically engineered weapons," he told reporters. "Those involved disclosed that the genomic data of Asian Chinese, European Aryans and Middle Eastern Arabs are all being collected by the U.S. military ."
A senior Pentagon official told Newsweek in a statement that the department "is not developing bioweapons and strongly refutes the assertion that we are."
Newsweek was not able to locate the article supposedly published by The Wall Street Journal but is not able to say that it does not exist. Newsweek contacted the WSJ via email for comment.
Wang also cited Russia's state-run news outlet RT, saying that an article it published in 2017 reported that the U.S. Air Education and Training Command (AETC) "once issued a tender seeking to acquire samples of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and synovial fluid from Russians."
"It's pretty clear who exactly is using genomic information for secret purposes," Wang added.
AETC spokesman Bo Downey told state-run news agency RIA Novosti in 2017 that a U.S. Air Force research center was conducting musculoskeletal studies to identify various biomarkers associated with trauma. He said that because an original set of data sent by a U.S. company had samples collected in Russia, the second set also required Russian samples.
"The request did not specify where the samples should be obtained. However, similar samples were required to continue the study. Since the supplier originally provided samples from Russia that were suitable for the original disease group, the control group of samples must also be of Russian origin. The goal is the integrity of the study, not the origin," Downey said.
Newsweek reached out to the AETC and China's Foreign Ministry via email for comment.
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Update 05/16/23, 10:36 a.m. ET: This article was updated with a statement from the Pentagon.