Reducing Unpredictability in Informationized Battlefield and MOST Guidelines on Human Genetic Resource
Issue 25, 4 April 2022
I recently co-authored an article with my colleague Swayamsiddha Samal on the implications of China’s increasing defense spending. You can read it here.
I. Military and Warfare
New Measures to Stop Increase in OODA Entropy
In the latest article in the series exploring entropy of OODA in modern warfare, authors Yang Zuo, Su Zhiguang, and Zhao Mengshan from Unit 61001 of PLA outline "new measures" to stop increasing entropy of OODA in Information Warfare/Informatized Warfare (信息化作战 Xìnxī huà zuòzhàn)
As I have noted in one of the previous issues, entropy here means "gradual decline into disorder" or "lack of predictability." Hence, this article is essentially suggesting "new measures" to reduce unpredictability in an informationized battlefield.
These measures are:
Building a new foundation (以新基建筑基)
Breakthrough with new ideas (以新观念破局)
Shaping a new paradigm (以新范式塑势)
Win in a new form (以新形态求胜)
Building a new foundation
Authors assess that the intelligent technology community represented by the Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, digital twins, etc., are in the process of continuous integration, superposition, and iterative upgrading. This translates into high availability and high-reliability technical support for economic and social development. Therefore, it is necessary to utilize good local information industry ecology, accelerate the construction of a new generation of national defense information infrastructure, and accelerate the creation of a new development layout of the national information industry. This new system should integrate the requirements for the construction of the military network information system and the needs of the joint combat system.
Breakthrough with new ideas
Authors diagnose that there is a gap between generation and output of joint combat capabilities and the conceptual development as it is difficult to keep pace with developments in the information age. They suggest that:
It is important to consciously develop new information concepts and scientific and technological concepts.
Abandon the concept of "traditional connotation + new quality embellishment" (“传统内涵+新质点缀” Chuántǒng nèihán +xīn zhí diǎnzhuì).
Avoid "cutting" (“裁剪” Cáijiǎn) information-based combat practices with the mechanized warfare mode.
Get rid of the inertial constraints and path dependence of "informatization +" (“信息化+” Xìnxī huà +).
Genuinely establish the concept of "informatization +" (“信息化+” Xìnxī huà +).
Speed up the transition from the stage of quantitative change of informatization to the stage of qualitative change of informatization based on the network information system.
Food for thought:
The authors emphasize "openness and cooperation" and suggest "cross-border cooperation" with other combat units for improvement in informatization capabilities. I wonder which country will they prefer such cooperation with. What do you think?
Shaping a new paradigm
In the information age, the relationship between each link in OODA is not as simple and linear as earlier. The kill-chain structure is also changing from chain to network or more complex higher-order structures. This needs to be urgently recognized and deconstructed with new concepts. The new paradigm should follow the trend of technological development and the evolution of warfare, strengthen the independent discovery of tasks, independent search for resources, independent regulation of actions, and independent evaluation of effects. It should achieve the perfect combination of top-down mission command and bottom-up event-driven structure.
Winning in a new form
As the relationship between the military organization and command structure is always changing, some changes are to be expected. For an efficient flow of information and command information system:
The operational command process should be reshaped
Standardized transformation should be accelerated
A command data standard system with excellent structure and complete functions should be built
Such a system should have the following functions:
It integrates and builds a multi-domain staggered kill network
Supports on-demand combination and dynamic adjustment of combat forces
Supports Parallel linkage and autonomous coordination of combat operations
Allows precise allocation of combat resources, targeted force
Can perform a real-time evaluation of action effects
Provide sensitive feedback
Such a system should promote the human's qualitative, judgment, decision-making, and other behaviors, and the machine's quantification, analysis, learning, and other behaviors at the decision-making level. The aim is to realize an intelligent human-machine collaborative command and decision-making system.
There are some other important changes needed like reshaping the structure of the force while keeping high agility and strong adaptability as important factors in force reorganization.
Human Genetic Resource Guidelines
A very detailed draft guideline on China's human genetic resources was released by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of China on March 22. The draft is open for public consultation till April 21. Highlights from the draft guideline are given below.
Highlights of MOST Guidelines on Human Genetic Resources:
Proposed to be governed under Biosecurity Law (中华人民共和国生物安全法) and Data Security Law (中华人民共和国数据安全法) of PRC.
A national survey on genetic resources will be conducted every five years (Article 25).
Management of human genetic resources within that region
S&T committees and bureaus of provincial governments
S&T Bureau of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC)
What is allowed? - "rational use of human genetic resource" for
Develop the biomedical industry
Key Requirements in the guidelines
Ethical review: of collection, preservation, utilization, and other works.
Safeguarding rights and interests: the processes mentioned above should respect the privacy rights of genetic resources providers and should obtain informed consent.
Technical compliance: with technical specifications of relevant scientific research activities.
Qualifications: This provision in Article 11 bans foreign organizations and individuals to collect or preserve China's genetic resources and places a ban on providing Chinese genetic resources abroad. Article 12 of the guidelines also defines "Foreign Units." The exact provision is given below:
"The collection, preservation, and external provision of China's human genetic resources within the territory of our country must be carried out by our nation's scientific research institutions, institutions of higher learning, medical institutions, and enterprises (hereinafter referred to as "Chinese units"). Overseas organizations, individuals, and institutions established or actually controlled by them (hereinafter referred to as "foreign units") must not collect or preserve our nation's human genetic resources within the territory of our country, and must not provide our nation's human genetic resources abroad." [在我国境内采集、保藏和对外提供我国人类遗传资源必须由我国科研机构、高等学校、医疗机构和企业（以下称“中方单位”）开展。境外组织、个人及其设立或者实际控制的机构（以下称“外方单位”）不得在我国境内采集、保藏我国人类遗传资源，不得向境外提供我国人类遗传资源]
However, unlike the State Council regulation in 2019, there is a provision for international cooperation. Article 14 mentions that to carry out international cooperative research, cooperation should fulfill principles of "equality and mutual benefit, good faith, joint participation, and share results."
Article 14: [Essential Agreements on International Cooperation] The use of Our nation's human genetic resources to carry out international cooperative scientific research, the two parties to the cooperation shall follow the principles of equality and mutual benefit, good faith, joint participation, and sharing of results, to sign cooperation agreements in accordance with law, and make clear and specific agreements on relevant matters.
Such cooperation will be based on a mutually signed "clear and scientific" agreement in accordance with the law. Furthermore, Article 15 also mentions that such cooperation shall ensure that Chinese units and their researchers participate in research throughout the process and substantively during the period of cooperation, and that all records and data and information in the course of research are fully open to Chinese units, and that backups are provided to Chinese units.
There are provisions for patent sharing and sharing of international cooperation rights and interests, detailed conditions for special cases where data had to be transported outside China, and conditions of the permit for the same.
There is also provision for open use of genetic information by foreign organizations and individuals and sending data aboard in emergency cases. However, it should pass the security review of the MOST.
My initial thoughts:
First of all, this is a draft guideline, not the final one. Hence, there might be some changes in the final version whenever it is released. Still, this guideline gives a pretty good idea of the direction of the Chinese government's thinking on matters related to human genetic resources. These guidelines are based on 2019 regulations issued by the State Council of China. The Chinese government had released these regulations in 2019 after the international controversy over Chinese Researcher He Jiankui’s claim to have created the world’s first gene-edited babies.
Human genetic resource generally refers to any substance that contains human genes. This includes organs, cells, tissues, hair follicles, etc. The definition of human genetic resources in the guideline also includes genetic resource information. This means the information and data generated from human genetic resource materials.
A key change from council regulation in 2019 to 2022 MOST guidelines is that the 2019 regulations are outright banned. Look at this official release on State Council's website:
"Foreign organizations and individuals, as well as organizations directly controlled by them, are not allowed to collect or preserve China’s human genetic resources, nor is providing such resources abroad."
However, the MOST guideline has a provision to send data abord for emergency cases, provided such transfer is approved by MOST. The current guideline also includes provisions for international cooperation. But again, there are conditions for international cooperation agreements, data sharing backup, administrative licensing, etc.
The inclusion of the Data Security Law could indicate that the Chinese government views human genetic resources data on par with data generated by platforms, services, devices, etc. This also implies that the government views human genome data as a strategic resource.
Interestingly, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), one of the organizations tasked with the management of the genetic resources within Xinjiang, has been sanctioned by the US Department of Treasury for involvement in human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region. XPCC is a paramilitary organization under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
III. Before You Go
Applications for Takshashila’s Public Policy Courses are now open.
The Graduate Certificate in Public Policy (GCPP) is a 3-month course. There are three streams to choose from: Defence and Foreign Affairs, Technology & Policy, and Advanced Public Policy. Refer links below for details of each specialization.
For Advance Public Policy: https://bit.ly/may22-ti-app
For Tech & Policy: https://bit.ly/may22-ti-tp
For Defence & Foreign Affairs: https://bit.ly/may22-ti-dfa
Megha Pardhi is a Research Analyst at The Takshashila Institution. She tweets at @pardhimegha21.