China Is Preparing For “Metaverse War”

China’s People’s Liberation Army is gearing up to wage high-tech warfare in the metaverse, the emerging amalgamation of virtual reality, the internet and the real world, according to a report by a China think tank. Air Force.

The PLA sees the ill-defined Metaverse as a future battleground for advanced conflict once considered confined to the realm of science fiction, the Air Force China Aerospace Studies Institute report says.

The official military journal PLA Daily said in a report last month that the Metaverse represents “new heights of future cognitive warfare.” China defines cognitive warfare as the blending of unmanned systems with artificial intelligence to produce new combat capabilities.

The concept includes the use of drone swarms, electronic warfare, hypersonic missiles, shape-shifting and self-healing platforms, biomaterial-infused “invisibility” cloaks and payloads and of 3D printed parts on the battlefield.

Such futuristic weapons will be able to recognize, react and adapt seamlessly on the battlefield, quickly carrying out missions without human intervention.

The Air Force report says the authors of the March PLA report on Metaverse Warfare are from the Institute of Military Policy Work at the Academy of Military Sciences, the largest research institute. formerly of the PLA under the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China, the country’s preeminent body. body of power.

“The Metaverse provides a parallel cognitive space that digitally pairs real combat scenarios, where cognitive warfare can be advanced efficiently and improved at a rapid pace,” the PLA report states, noting that the domain will be used in the future for attacks and conflicts.

“By attacking an adversary’s metaverse (and more broadly in cognitive warfare), one can ‘affect the adversary’s thinking, cognition, and decision-making,'” the report states.

The PLA provides for three types of metaverse confrontation. The first is “platform confrontation” involving hostile forces using the metaverse for cognitive or defensive attacks to disrupt, delay, deter, destroy, and eliminate opposing forces from the metaverse.

Two others are “supply chain and systems” attacks that will block key nodes and the technical functioning of enemy metaverses, and “indirect hijacking” – tampering with communications technology devices and using deception to alter the functioning of an enemy metaverse system.

“The goal is to confuse and misunderstand the adversary,” the report said.

Another article in Chinese state-controlled media, titled “New Battlefield-Metaverse,” claims that the Metaverse War will be the scene of a great power competition between the United States and China.

“In the future, China and the United States will inevitably compete in the metaverse,” the article said.

The Air Force report concludes that although the Metaverse is in the early stages of development, “China is well positioned to be a leader in Metaverse development with investment and support from some of its largest big tech companies, as well as the Chinese Communist Party itself. ”

“The potential conflict that can arise when the Metaverse is implemented and used as the Internet is concerning,” the report states.

“The information technology sector is already identified as US critical infrastructure and the metaverse will be part of it when it becomes operational.”

As the military comes to rely on the Metaverse in its day-to-day operations, “there will be greater risk and potential consequences to the disruption or destruction of the Metaverse,” the report states.

The report recommends seeking “standards” to avoid conflict and to strengthen the futuristic ecosystem that will become the target of future conflict.

The report was authored by Josh Baughman, a CASI analyst and originally published by the Military Cyber ​​Professionals Association.

US government concerns about the development of cognitive warfare in China came to light in this space in December after the Commerce Department imposed sanctions on several Chinese tech companies for engaging in cognitive warfare research. brain control.

The department’s Office of Industry and Security said in announcing the sanctions that the companies were working on “biotechnology processes to support Chinese military end uses and end users, including alleged brain control weapons.”

Beijing’s weapons to Serbia raise concerns

Last weekend, the Chinese military sent six Y-20 transport planes to Serbia, an ally of Moscow, raising fears that Beijing is secretly resupplying the Russian military as it continues its invasion of Russia. Ukraine.

“We are aware of Serbia’s recent receipt of the FK-3 anti-aircraft system from the People’s Republic of China,” a senior defense official told Inside the Ring.

“Doing business with companies based in the PRC is a sovereign decision, but governments need to understand the short- and long-term risks and costs,” the official said, using the acronym People’s Republic of China.

The arms deal was reached in 2019 and is unrelated to the war in Ukraine, the official said.

Chinese state media reported that the transports, which US officials say were developed from stolen US C-17 transport technology, demonstrated “strategic transport” capabilities for the Chinese military. The six Y-20s were tracked by non-government aircraft spotters through Turkish airspace on Friday on their way to Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport.

The flights were an unusual display of military power projection, China’s official newspaper The People’s Daily reported on Monday.

No payload details were released, although online reports say the transports delivered FK-3 surface-to-air missiles, an export version of China’s HQ-22 SAM.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that the transports had delivered “conventional military items to Serbia”. The arms shipment is “not destined for any third country”, he said.

When asked if the deliveries could disrupt the peace in war-torn Eastern Europe, Mr. Zhao replied, “Did you ever care whether regional peace and stability were threatened when the United States sold arms to Europe and Taiwan? Why do you think this is so when China sells conventional military items to Serbia? »

Serbia signed a military agreement with Russia in 2016 and in 2022 purchased several military equipment from Moscow, including Pantsir air defense missiles and Kornet anti-tank missiles.

A Pentagon spokesman had no immediate comment on the Chinese arms delivery.

Advocacy group calls for missile defense reforms

The Pentagon must modernize and reform its advanced missile defense systems in the face of new enemy threats such as hypersonic missiles, according to a report by the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.

“The advent of Russian and Chinese hypersonic missile threats, in addition to the growing arsenals of both countries’ increasingly complex ballistic and cruise missile capabilities, clearly demonstrates the importance our adversaries place on long-range strike capabilities. scope,” the report said. “In response to these advances, the United States must ensure that the missile defense enterprise is properly organized, resourced, and managed to succeed in this demanding new threat environment.”

China and Russia are investing heavily in hypersonic missiles that can move faster than anti-missile interceptors and are also building large numbers of long-range missiles that could overwhelm the current limited missile defenses.

The current roles and missions of missile defenses have not kept pace with growing threats.

The MDAA report urges making missile defense a core military mission, increasing spending to close gaps in land-based cruise missile defenses, and finding weapons to counter hypersonic missiles. The Pentagon Missile Defense Agency also needs rapid acquisition authority for more effective and faster defense development and deployment.

Better coordination is needed between military services and combatant commands on missile defenses, the report said.

The new Space Command should be given primary responsibility for missile defenses, currently the role of Strategic Command.

Riki Ellison, president of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, former professional football linebacker and three-time Super Bowl champion, said he knew from his playing days that “the defense wins.”

“In the real world though, this principle is even more important because the defense of our country can never fail,” Mr Ellison said.

“Unfortunately, today’s missile defense is ill-prepared to defend against emerging threats from China and Russia. The MDAA’s recommendations on roles and responsibilities are a fundamental step in ensuring a highly capable and well-resourced missile defense.

Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter @BillGertz.

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China Is Preparing For “Metaverse War”

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