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John S. Van Oudenaren  
Assistant Director
Political and Security Affairs

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2019 People's Liberation Army Seattle Workshop

The Party’s Military and Emerging Technology


On December 16–17, 2019, the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) convened a workshop on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Seattle, Washington. The closed-door, invitation-only workshop focused on the PLA’s application of emerging technologies for both military modernization purposes, and the information and influence operations that are part of broader Chinese government efforts to shape the external environment

The first panel of the workshop focused on Military-Civil Fusion (MCF), an effort by the Chinese government to leverage civilian technological innovation for military modernization. The panel included presentations on the impact of MCF on PLA modernization, and the Chinese government’s efforts to create a commercial space sector.

The second day of the workshop began with a panel focused on the PLA’s use of emerging technologies to address operational or organizational challenges. The panel featured presentations on the implications of continued advancements in artificial intelligence for U.S.-China military competition; and the PLA’s efforts to attain a military edge through genomics, biotechnology, and cognitive sciences.

The final panel examined the PLA’s role in broader Chinese efforts to use emerging technologies to foster an external information environment beneficial to China’s national security and foreign policy goals. The panel included presentations on the Chinese government’s external propaganda efforts and PLA influence operations; PLA-linked enterprises’ export of surveillance technology, and its implications for democracies; and the PLA’s use of psychological operations in cyberspace.