Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre

Project Items

Biosecurity in China (UK-China Fellowship of Excellence)

An issue in recent attempts to strengthen international biosecurity protocols is whether the agendas of Western democracies reflect the concerns and interests of developing countries.

This is important since efforts to promote responsibility and awareness of dual-use potential will have to carry global appeal to policy makers and scientific communities.

But much of the focus, to date, has been on US, UK, or Australian views.

This project aimed to provide an initial understanding of Chinese perceptions and practice of biosecurity. China represents a key player in biosecurity negotiations for several reasons, including:

While based at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences/Peking Union Medical College (Xiehe Yiyuan), Dr Michael Barr conducted site visits and interviews in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, with microbiologists in infectious disease hospitals, staff at district level Centres for Disease Control, university research labs, the Ministry of Health, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Analysis will help provide insight into Chinese views on: semantic differences between Western and Chinese terms for biosafety and biosecurity; the appropriateness of codes of conduct; the nature of dual use educational campaigns; and, the relationship between natural disease outbreaks and the malign use of biotechnology for criminal or political ends.

In addition to original papers and presentations, the project ultimately aims to provide a springboard for further funding and collaborative efforts with Chinese partner institutions.