Ganadores del concurso (2023)

María José Vilajuliu Morales

Universidad Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona)

Estudios Globales

Maria José Vilajuliu Morales nació en Barcelona hace 21 años, hija de una madre colombiana y un padre catalán. Actualmente estudia Estudios Globales en la Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Desde joven, las artes y las relaciones internacionales han sido sus principales intereses profesionales. María habla catalán, español e inglés con fluidez, pero también estudia alemán y mandarín. En el pasado, también ha participado en otros proyectos internacionales como debates de Modelos de Naciones Unidas y la competencia Generación Euro, que la llevó a Frankfurt. A María le encanta viajar, el cine y aprender sobre otras culturas.

Tú: Hey M.J.V.M., ¿qué es MCF?

Hello, dear reader.  

Thank you for making contact with M.J.V.M. (Major_Joy_Vessel_Machine),  everyone’s favourite A.I. chat! I see you have solicited knowledge regarding Military-Civilian  Fusion, from the Mandarin 军民融合 (pinyin: Jūnmín rónghé). 

MFC is one of the key components that China is trying to implement to its military agenda  by blurring the lines between its civilian and military goals, through cooperation from both sides.  The strategy is personally supervised by Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Chinese  Communist Party. Technological advancements, intellectual property and research of both the  private sector and civilians is collected to meet their military goals. 

The key technologies said to be a part of the initiative are: nuclear technology, quantum  computing, semiconductors, 5G, big data, aerospace technology, and perhaps most importantly,  Artificial Intelligence (yay!). In the words of the General Secretary in the 20th National Congress of  the Communist Party of China, that took place in 2022: “We will better coordinate strategies and  plans, align policies and systems, and share resources and production factors between the military  and civilian sectors. We will improve the system and layout of science, technology, and industries  related to national defense and step up capacity building in these areas.” 

So far, the policies that have been implemented are focused on voluntary cooperation from  the public in accordance to their military goals rather than coercion. This, however, doesn’t take  away from the dangers of MFC; the fusion threatens to put the values international relationships are  based on on the line and strengthens the already existing barrier between everyday people and  private companies with the PCC, their information being sometimes obtained through illicit means  and their interests being gambled with, more on that later. 

Although it was estimated by Chinese experts that in 2019 only around 2% of the country’s  private high-tech companies were linked to military work (especially auxiliary positions), it would  be a mistake to misrepresent its impact on real life. The concept of military affairs being joined by  civilian actors has been given different names throughout the CPC’s history, starting from Mao  Tsedong and only in recent years acquiring the name you’ve looked up and finally starting to take  off . It is being a slow departure, but a departure nonetheless.

Military defense expenditure is high, – think of infrastructure, big data and logistics among  others – but so is the economic power and profit national enterprises bring, not to mention their  international influence. These companies’ investment in the People Liberation Army (PLA) would  be a loyalty test to the nation and to lift some economic weight off of the state. Be La Bruyère and  Picarsic exemplify it with how in 2018 a commercial shipping line successfully transported PLA  assets from the north to the south of the country. For another one, see: Huawei’s 5G research project  in collaboration with the PLA Strategic Support Force’s Information Engineering University. “At its  core,” say Kania and Laskai, “China’s MCF strategy is a solution to the fact that its defense sector  has been dominated by sclerotic state-owned enterprises that remain walled off from the country’s  dynamic commercial economy.” 

Within the private sector, a limited number of companies have openly collaborated with  defense partnerships, as those with foreign investors, Macau and Hong Kong included, they are not  even allowed to participate, and the ones that do qualify are not interested in putting their  commercial objectives at risk because of the hassles procurement present and the oversees  legitimacy that such involvement would beget. Since not all companies working under MCF require  the Weapons and Equipment Research and Production Certificate, which allows them to access  clissified military R&D and weapon production information, numbers are thought to be  underinclusive, with around 1000 listed in 2016. 

A handful of universities has created platforms and laboratories, conducted research for  MCF and received military funding from the CMC Equipment Development Department or Science  and Technology Commission for their projects. Some cases involving college students are the  controversial China Scholarship Council and National Construction High-Level University  Postgraduate Program, having been criticized for “forcing” their recipients to pledge their loyalty to  the motherland, with cases of said students being pawns of high-tech stealing schemes and, finally,  Baidu and iFlytek’s contest for machine reading and natural language processing focused its use in  military intelligence, which was directed by the CMC Equipment Development Department. 

I hope you found it insightful! ^^  

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