China has a unique and interesting history. Their culture and advances in science are notable as are their experiences in Tibet, the Uyghurs, genocide, Taiwan, Hong Kong, military biotechnology, and Covid-19. Some experts believe that China will be the biggest threat we have to face in the future, but why would they think that?
DICTATORS, NOT DYNASTIES
Civilization in China is considered to be among the oldest in world history, perhaps second only to the biblical “cradle of civilization” in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq).
While we can chronicle the many ‘Dynasties’ in China’s past, the history of that part of the world is not much different than the history of the early tribes of Europe, or native America, or Africa.
All are replete with warfare and colonization in order to secure geography and national safety.
But, let’s focus on why much of the world has come to have an intense hatred of China.
Mao Zedong – also known as “Chairman Mao” – was the founding father of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and ruled the country from 1949 (just after WWII) until his death in 1976.
From about 1958 to 1962, it is estimated that Chairman Mao was responsible for killing some 45 million people, many by starvation (PM Australia, 2010).
Surprisingly, today his image remains on China’s official currency.
In 1979, Communist China began to allow a limited “capitalist” system, and the nation’s economy began a sky-rocket boom almost overnight.
China began accumulating wealth from sales to other countries and Westerners suddenly had access to cheap electronics, toys, tools and so much more.
Communist China termed this the new “Socialist Market Economy.” A little bit capitalist, but still communist/socialist.
Then – in 2018 – China’s National People’s Congress voted to allow President Xi Jinping to remain in power for life. Of the 2,964 votes in the congress, only two delegates voted against, and three abstained (BBC, 2018).
One of the more confusing things we often hear is that Chinese culture, politics, and military strategy is superior to that in the West because China maintains a “100-year strategy” or even a “1,000-year strategy.”
But nothing could be further from the truth!
China is absolutely a reactionary regime and has sketchy plans for what it is gonna do next week, and not much of a long-term cultural, political or military strategy.
Let me tell you why we know this…
In the not so remote past, we in the West remember repeated reports of Chinese atrocities against the people of Tibet.
In the early 1950s, the area of Tibet was annexed by the PRC, as the communist Chinese government accused Tibetan Dahlia Lamas of being “slave owners” (CTA, 2009).
Many accused China of committing atrocities against the Tibetans in order to nationalize and enforce Chinese control and unity. Others claimed the controversy was overblown by Westerners seeking to undermine the Communist Chinese government.
The current Dalai Lama – referred to as the 14th Dalai Lama – once strongly supported the “Free Tibet” movement, then suddenly became mostly silent on the issue, saying the movement was a product of United States intelligence efforts and “part of their (CIA) worldwide efforts to destabilize all communist governments” (LA Times, 1998),
The Free Tibet movement seemed to lose some steam in the Western media as we heard increasing reports of Chinese genocide against the Uyghur people (pronounced like ‘We Gur”) in western China, including widespread killings and internment camps (HIN, 2021).
While many Uyghurs were traditionally Buddhists, the Islamic conquests of the 12th to 16th centuries resulted in most Uyghurs today being Sunni Muslim, while there is a Christian minority.
As Uyghurs – a Turkic people from parts of China, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Northern Africa – do not look Chinese and mostly speak a different language, it is said that Chinese atrocities against them – much like the Tibetans – is an effort by the Chinese government to unify the Chinese people as one distinct, similar populous with similar, shared loyalties.
MONEY, HOLLYWOOD, AND JOHN CENA
While the Three Gorges Dam, in central China, is the world’s largest hydroelectric facility, years of poor sanitation and lack of waste management efforts have left much of China’s water supply polluted. Tap water in China is unsafe to drink (USGS, 2021).
Also of note is China’s High-Speed Rail (HSR) system, claimed to be the world’s longest high-speed railway network, encompassing rail lines that reach up to 220 miles per hour (350 km/h) (RS, 2021).
In recent years, as China integrated bits of capitalism under its communist umbrella, it created a lot of Chinese millionaires and billionaires.
But many of those millionaires and billionaires were quickly viewed as a threat to the communist regime.
The flamboyant Jack Ma – creator of the popular Alibaba website and richest man in China – was abruptly pulled from the public eye for several months this year.
It is widely reported that the communist party in China was offended by Ma who became openly critical of the Chinese financial system (Forbes, 2021).
At the same time, many global companies that had flocked to China in recent years are now leaving because the regime is clamping down against business and its accompanying ‘free enterprise.’
During a recent interview to promote his upcoming movie, John Cena referred to Taiwan as a “country,” which terribly upset Chinese communist officials.
The backlash from the Chinese government scared Cena so much that he posted a video apology on Twitter. He even made the apology speaking fluent Mandarin (the official language of China).
How does John Cena know how to speak Mandarin, you ask?
Because of the $1.2 billion that Cena’s movie initially grossed worldwide, some $400 million came from theaters in China. That’s how John Cena knows how to speak Mandarin!
Not to mention that Cena has been to China several times to promote the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) (CNET, 2021).
In 1979, China introduced its “One-Child Policy” in order to address fears of “overpopulation.”
This governmental policy established strict controls disallowing couples to have more than one child, ultimately resulting in millions of abortions.
China discontinued the One-Child Policy in 2016, allowing couples to have two children, and just this year changed again to allow couples to have three children (BBC, 2021).
In order to understand this quick and drastic change in China’s family/birth policies, one has to understand a basic concept of “family” in much of Asia, which is drastically different than that in the West.
Simply put, in much of Asia, your children are your 401K plan!
That is to say that as you grow older, your children are expected to take full care of you until you die. No nursing home, no assisted living facility.
You will most likely die in the same home you were born in and your children will raise their own children in the same home as you grow old.
After just a few decades the Chinese government realized that it had an entire generation of young adults who were an “only child” with no siblings.
The government realized this generation of “only child” young adults would be burdened with having to take care of their parents – and sometimes grandparents – with no siblings to help out.
Even more, the Chinese military began worrying over an entire generation of spoiled young adults pampered and doted over as an “only child,” leaving them unfit for the rigors of military service.
As Li Daguang – professor at the National Defense University in Beijing – said, “Many of these young people are the only child in their family, growing up in gilded cages and unable to bear hardships in the army.”
This is an intriguing statement by Daguang from 2018 as we hear increasing reports of desertions across China’s military (Business Standard, 2018).
Of course, we should include the issue of the metropolitan area of Hong Kong, one of the most populated areas on earth.
Located on the southern coast of China, Hong Kong became a colony of Britain in the mid-1800s but was handed back to China in July 1997, with the agreement that China would allow Hong Kong to maintain a separate government for 50 years.
In 2020 though, China aggressively took over political control of Hong Kong, resulting in sweeping arrests and detainment of a number of Hong Kong activists and news editors, and the firing of many local government workers, and the rewriting of the school curriculum (NYT, 2021).
China has also long threatened to invade and “reclaim” the island of Taiwan – with a population of almost 24 million people – which China considers its own province.
Most recently – actually just weeks ago – China deployed its military aircraft to make increasingly aggressive and threatening movements in Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
From an international perspective, while intrusions into a country’s ADIZ are viewed as provocative, China did not actually invade Taiwan’s “International Air Space” – which could bring accusations of an ‘act of war.’
On October 1st of this year, China flew 38 aircraft – including fighter jets and bombers – towards Taiwan, and over the next three days sent another 111 aircraft (NPR, 2021).
In response, the Taiwanese military scrambled its fighter jets and tracked the Chinese aircraft with its missile systems in what Chiu Kuo-cheng – Taiwan’s defense minister – called “the toughest situation I have seen in more than 40 years of my military life”.
As U.S. Navy Admiral John Aquilino – commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command since April 2021 – recently told the U.S. Senate, taking control of Taiwan is China’s “number one priority (The Guardian, 2021).
Add to that that in regards to his recent retirement Chinese Lt. Gen. He Lei said that his biggest regret was that he never fought a war (Foreign Policy, 2018).
While Gen. Lei’s comment may offer the opportunity to say that China’s modern military is indeed not battle-tested against a peer military force, it may still give insight into the idea that Chinese warriors are looking forward to the fight.
And as American warriors learned in the Pacific Theatre WWII, and in Korea and in Vietnam, the warriors in that part of the world know how to fight!
Militaries across the globe have always (rightly) examined private industry concepts and products to see if those concepts and products might have “dual-use” for the military.
A Sept. 2021 piece from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey entitled, “Scientific risk assessment of genetic weapons systems” defines precision medicine as “a medical care designed to optimize benefit for particular groups, especially based on genetic (or molecular) profiling” (Pitch, et al, 2021).
Of course, the medical community might use that genetic information to better treat maladies that afflict certain ethnicities. But, the “dual-use” concept might also allow military researchers to weaponize such genetic information to specifically target different ethnicities, or other targets genetically.
A 2005 piece included in the U.S. Army’s Military Review journal entitled “Ultramicro, nonlethal, and reversible: Looking ahead to military biotechnology,” Colonel Ji-El of The People’s Liberation Army of China wrote specifically about military uses of biotechnology, including the Human Genome Project (HGP), genetic structures, and even ways to alter biological features of an enemy.
As he wrote, “we might soon be able to design, control, reconstruct, and simulate molecules in living beings.” Ji-El added that a military attack “might wound an enemy’s genes, proteins, cells, tissues, and organs, causing more damage than conventional weapons could.”
Perhaps most shocking, he insists, “If we acquire a target’s genome and proteome information, including those of ethnic groups or individuals, we could design a vulnerating agent that attacks only key enemies without doing any harm to ordinary people” (AUP, 2005).
Finally, he imagined what he called a “microbullet” manipulated with DNA molecules that would “cause disease or injury by controlling genes.”
Elsa Kania – adjunct senior fellow at the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security – along with security consultant Wilson Vordick, penned the piece “Weaponizing Biotech: How China’s military is preparing for a ‘New domain of warfare” in the August 2019 edition of Defense One magazine (Elsa &Vordivk, 2019) .
They wrote that The People’s Liberation Army of China is “at the forefront of expanding and exploiting this (biotechnology) knowledge.”
Of specific mention was one Chinese scientist who received world condemnation for “editing embryos that became the world’s first genetically modified humans.”
Another shocking revelation was that Beijing Genomics Inc. (BGI) – based in Shenzhen, China – has had access to the genetic information of many Americans by harvesting samples from medical testing kits.
A July 2021 Reuters investigation piece entitled “China’s gene giant harvests data from millions of women” found that the Chinese company collaborated with the Chinese military to develop prenatal testing kits that were sold around the world.
The Reuters investigation suggested that China’s harvesting of genetic data from leftover blood samples could “potentially lead to genetically enhanced soldiers, or engineered pathogens to target the U.S. population or food supply” (Needham & Baldwin, 2021).
As also noted in the 2021 Reuters piece, “BGI shot to global prominence last year after selling or donating millions of COVID-19 test kits and gene-sequencing labs outside China. U.S. security agencies warned this was part of an effort to collect large amounts of foreign genetic material.”
Especially now – with the entire globe engulfed with and battling Covid-19 – much of the world disdains China, and China knows it.
Of course, we should offer sincere support to the Chinese people, but any effort by China to attack and/or invade Taiwan in any way would instantly draw worldwide shock and condemnation.
As we consider everything I’ve discussed here, we have to put it all on the same page rather than simply discussing these issues as separate topics.
We have the atrocities in Tibet, the genocide of the Uyghurs, Chinese military threats to invade Taiwan, violence in Hong Kong, gene editing and military biotechnology, and now COVID-19.
China has given us plenty of signals. I hope we’re listening.
AUP (2005) – Ultramicro, nonlethal, and reversible: Looking ahead to military biotechnology, Military Review, July-August 2005, Retrieved August 11, 2021 from Ultramicro, Nonlethal, and Reversible – Looking Ahead to Military Biotechnology (army.mil).
BBC (2018) – China’s Xi allowed to remain ‘president for life’ as term limits removed, BBC News, March 11. 2018. Retrieved August 11, 2021 from China’s Xi allowed to remain ‘president for life’ as term limits removed – BBC News.
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USGS (2021) – Three Gorges Dam: The world’s largest hydroelectric plant, USGS.gov. Retrieved August 11, 2021 from Three Gorges Dam: The World’s Largest Hydroelectric Plant (usgs.gov)