China’s security authorities caution over biosecurity, revealing species data theft by overseas NGO
Published: Oct 30, 2023 02:14 PM
Photo: Courtesy of China's Ministry of State Security

Photo: Courtesy of China's Ministry of State Security


China's Ministry of State Security warned over the danger of genetic weapon, which could bring devastating consequences once used in war, in an article on Monday morning, revealing a case where certain foreign nongovernmental organization (NGO) recruited Chinese "volunteers" to collect biodiversity distribution data in the name of biological species research to steal China's species data.

Compared with traditional biological and chemical weapons, genetic weapons have stronger concealment capabilities, deception, ease of dissemination, and long-term harmful effects, the ministry pointed out, warning that some countries have turned genetic technology into deadly weapons.

If given enough human genetic samples, the unique genetic characteristics of each ethnic group and race can be analyzed and understood, and the genetic weapons can be developed to selectively attack targets with specific racial genes, the ministry noted.

The ministry thus stressed the protection of biosecurity, especially the human genetic resources and biological species resources, which were the espionage targets of some overseas institutions, organizations and individuals.

China's national security agencies have discovered that an overseas NGO had recruited volunteers in China under the pretext of conducting research on biological species. They extensively collected data on the distribution of biological species from various regions in China and required participants to upload the collected data through a dedicated mobile application.

But the fact is that the NGO not only had ties to a certain country's government but also continuously transmitted data overseas, posing a potential threat to China's biosecurity and ecological security, the ministry said.

"Maintaining biosecurity is a shared responsibility of all of society. Everyone should establish a sense of biosafety and draw wisdom from the lessons learned in dealing with biosafety risks, such as public health emergencies," said the ministry.

In October 2020, China passed its Law on Biosecurity, which showed that China has elevated the importance of biosecurity to an unprecedented level and provided important legal support for the prevention and mitigation of biosecurity risks.