Leading British researcher lectured in China on weapons development


A British weapons expert developing advanced ballistic capabilities for the country’s armed forces has taken part in lecture tours in China, it has been learned.

Clive Woodley lectured to Chinese arms industry executives in Beijing while working as a senior scientist at security firm Qinetiq, a contractor for the UK Ministry of Defence.

And last October, Woodley, a visiting scholar at Imperial College London’s Institute of Shock Physics, spoke at a conference in eastern China, focusing on “a new chapter in the development of artillery, shells and missiles”.

According to the online magazine Unherd, among the audience taking notes were figures from China’s arms industry.

Woodley worked for Qinetiq from 2001 to 2018 and was invited in 2017 to the Beijing Institute of Technology by the State Key Laboratory of Explosion Science and Technology to give a lecture on “internal ballistics in Qinetiq”.

There, according to the State Key Laboratory conference report, Woodley “gave serious and detailed answers” in a question-and-answer session and “had a lively discussion with teachers and students.”

He also conducted “extensive research” on explosives science with prominent Chinese scholars linked to the munitions industry, the Chinese hosts reported.

An active speaker and committee chairman on the arms R&D lecture circuit, the 67-year-old co-chaired the first international defense technology conference in Beijing in 2018 with prominent Chinese defense scientist Changgen Feng.

Electromagnetic launch and impact mechanics were among the high-level weaponry topics discussed.

The Unherd report claimed that some of Woodley’s research was funded by the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory, part of the Department of Defense.

“It’s insane that we are doing nothing to stop the ridiculous practice of letting hostile nations take over our best technology,” a government source told Britain’s Times newspaper.

Qinetiq said in a statement that it has “robust processes to vet our employees and their activities both inside and outside the company.”

The UK government said in a statement: “We have robust procedures to ensure that research contracts do not contribute to overseas military programs and that individuals or organizations with links to foreign states cannot not access our sensitive searches.”

Woodley told the Times that the MoD “knew” of his activities, while Imperial College said he was an unpaid visiting scholar and did not conduct sensitive, classified research.

The Epoch Times has asked Woodley and Qinetiq for comment.

Over the past year, China has shocked Western defense chiefs and bewildered governments by unveiling a slew of new high-tech weapons and missiles.

Last August, the PLA tested a mysterious nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that circled the earth before scattering its dummy warheads to multiple targets.

And last month, the PLA Navy released a video clip showing a previously undisclosed missile fired from a Type 055 guided missile cruiser.

Many China watchers believe that China has made a leap forward in weapons development, mainly through espionage, but there are growing concerns about how cooperation in academic projects and defense-related conference calls benefit what is increasingly seen as a hostile opponent.


Peter Simpson is a British journalist who has worked for major international news media and spent a decade covering China from Beijing, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics, during which he broke numerous exclusives. He is interested in all facets of the Sino-British relationship and geopolitics. Other interests include sports, business, culture and travel.


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