Documents obtained by the US State Department reveal Chinese military scientists discussed the weaponisation of SARS coronaviruses five years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Titled The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bioweapons, the paper predicted that World War Three would be fought with biological weapons.

Top Chinese scientists outlined their ideas in the document predicting a third world war would be fought with biological weapons.

Documents obtained by the US State Department reportedly show People’s Liberation Army (PLA) commanders predicted that World War 3 would be fought with biological weapons.

US officials obtained the papers which were written by military scientists and senior Chinese public health officials in 2015 as part of their own investigation into the origins of Covid-19.

Chinese scientists described SARS ­coronaviruses – of which Covid is an example – as heralding a “new era of genetic weapons”.

They boasted the viruses could be “artificially manipulated into an emerging human ­disease virus, then weaponised and unleashed in a way never seen before”.

Tom ­Tugendhat MP and Australian politician James Paterson said the document raises major concerns about China’s transparency on the origins of Covid-19.

Mr Tugendhat, chairman for the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said: “China’s evident interest in bioweapons is extremely concerning. Even under the tightest controls these weapons are dangerous.

“This document raises major concerns about the ambitions of some of those who advise the top party leadership.”

China has long been accused of covering up or distorting its role in the early days of the pandemic, with claims the Communist Party manipulated case and death figures while withholding information from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

China is known to have been carrying out high risk “gain of function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) – which is just a stone’s throw from the outbreak’s ground zero at the Huanan Seafood Market.

Australian Strategic Policy ­Institute executive director Peter Jennings said the way China combines both civilian and military research could mean experiments like that carried out at WIV could be weaponised.

“If you are building skills ostensibly to protect your military from a biological attack, you’re at the same time giving your military a capacity to use these weapons offensively. You can’t separate the two.”

The PLA papers fantasizes that a bioweapon attack could cause the “enemy’s medical system to collapse”.

Peter Jennings told news.com.au that the document is as close to a “smoking gun” as we’ve got.

“I think this is significant because it clearly shows that Chinese scientists were thinking about military application for different strains of the coronavirus and thinking about how it could be deployed,” said Mr Jennings.

“It begins to firm up the possibility that what we have here is the accidental release of a pathogen for military use,” added Mr Jennings.

He also said that the document may explain why China has been so reluctant for outside investigations into the origins of COVID-19.

“If this was a case of transmission from a wet market it would be in China’s interest to co-operate … we’ve had the opposite of that.”