Issues & Insights

Pandemic Mass Death Helps Beijing’s Global Aspirations

Mao meets President Nixon, February 1972.

As we emphasized in this space before, there is no evidence, and no concrete reason to suspect, that the novel coronavirus now wreaking havoc on the world is biological warfare undertaken by the Chinese Communist regime. But that doesn’t mean Beijing wouldn’t stand to gain on the world stage from a massive global loss of life (including within its own borders) that can be dealt with more easily by a totalitarian society than by the free world.

“The passing of Mao in 1976, the Tiananmen events of 1989, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union remade China into a fearsome global competitor with interests that could be well served by the devastation of Washington or New York, so long as that calamity was not directly attributable to Beijing,” wrote American nuclear weapons designers Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman in their 2009 political history of nuclear proliferation, “The Nuclear Express.”

Mushroom clouds are just one means of mass destruction.

After all, communist China has experienced mass death before, and on a scale that 21st century Americans can’t fathom. In 1958, less than a decade after taking power (with some help from U.S. State Department diplomats), Mao Tse Tung embarked on converting the vast country’s agrarian economy to communism via the establishment of ideological gangs.

The impossible grain yield demands the greatly feared Mao dictated in this “Great Leap Forward” led to widespread starvation of farmers, compounded by his insistence that massive amounts of food be exported to the Soviet Union, and to Third World nations upon which there were communist designs for conquest or domination. The dead may have numbered 45 million.

A few years later, Mao saw the urgent need for a purging of the bourgeoisie’s infiltration within the government and society, and the accompanying traditional Chinese cultural and capitalist influences. The ensuing “Cultural Revolution” the chairman launched in 1966 cost as many as 20 million Chinese lives. The interests of the People’s Republic allegedly required the elimination of all those people.

What was the aftermath of these, the costliest genocides of one’s own populace in the history of humanity – exceeding both Stalin’s and Hitler’s? Unacceptably in terms of U.S. national security, the answer is: the protracted ascent of the Red Dragon.

China remains since 1964 a nuclear weapons power, possessing hundreds of atomic warheads and dozens of intercontinental ballistic missiles; the U.S., with much fanfare, unilaterally opened communist China up to the world in 1972 and bestowed inestimable prestige on Mao’s regime; and in the decades since, China has adopted and adapted market economics to become a manufacturing superpower, while still maintaining a totalitarian society, the world’s largest military, and firm designs on reaching global dominance by the middle of the century, dislodging the United States’ preeminence in so doing.

An actual repeat of the Cultural Revolution or Great Leap Forward can’t happen in modern China; the people have traded their Mao suits for cell phones and limited electronic freeflow of information. But their cousin in terms of loss of life, a pandemic, can happen.

A government whose national policy – even while its market-based practices were in full swing – includes “forced abortions and the confiscation of children by the authorities,” is ruling over a society that can and will tolerate millions of its own being allowed to die. The masses will not rise up against their overseers who are the perpetrators of such horrors.

Tiananmen Square’s failure in 1989, as the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Iron Curtain collapsed, proved that. As National Review’s Jim Geraghty wrote, “many who participated in the protest came to accept the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. The fight was unwinnable, those who went into exile were forgotten, and state-managed prosperity was arriving.”

Today, “most Chinese know exactly what happened at Tiananmen Square, but they see even acknowledging it to a foreign journalist as extraordinarily risky.”

Killing Outside The Box

Senior Chinese air force colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xianghu in 1999 wrote a book titled “Warfare Beyond Rules,” first published in Chinese by the People’s Liberation Army Art Press. The colonels recommended “warfare beyond all boundaries and limitations.”

And this is happening. “The Chinese are engaged in a full-court blitzkrieg of stealing American technology, trying to influence our political system, trying to steal secrets in our research universities and so forth,” Attorney General Bill Barr told Fox News on Wednesday.

“China is a very serious threat to the United States geopolitically, economically, militarily, and a threat to the integrity of our institutions,” he added.

“China stands astride this world like a young Colossus, a nation clearly supportive of nuclear proliferation. It entered the thermonuclear age with a speed that dazzled the West,” Reed and Stillman pointed out in their book, ten years after Liang and Xianghu’s call for unconventional warfare. “Certain parts of the Chinese government may have decided it would be in their best interest to accept, or even encourage, multiple nuclear events (or wars) within the Western world: thus the apparent Chinese tolerance of North Korean, Pakistani, and Iranian nuclear ambitions.”

But if nuclear destruction of populations outside China is concluded to be in Beijing’s best interest, why not destruction by disease? A germ is even less directly attributable to the Chinese Communist Party than a terrorist nuke whose ultimate origin was a Chinese lab; after all, calling the current agent of death the “Wuhan Virus” is racist, Beijing warns us, in spite of the fact the virus originated in Wuhan, and that American mainstream media are even warming to the theory its (accidental) origin is a laboratory there.

The Pentagon’s hypothesizing about germ warfare has typically envisioned rockets raining down biological agents upon civilian populations or armies on the battlefield. But consider, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this uncanny passage regarding bio-weapon research from the Defense Department’s 1984 edition of “Soviet Military Power”:

“In the spring of 1979, an accidental release of an anthrax agent occurred” at a bio-weaponry research lab in Sverdlovsk, causing “a significant number of casualties and deaths. More than 3,000 Soviet citizens may have been infected … The Soviet Government has claimed that the anthrax problem was caused by the illegal sale of contaminated meat on the black market. The evidence indicates instead that the victims suffered from pulmonary anthrax caused by the inhalation of an anthrax agent, which could only have escaped from the military facility.” (Emphasis added.)

As that Reagan-era publication stated, “In Soviet doctrine, the biological weapon is seen as a strategic weapon for the spread of infectious disease. Many of the Soviet long- and intermediate-range missile systems are technically capable of disseminating large quantities of disease agents over large areas.”

But coronavirus has needed no ICBMs to reach the four corners of the globe and kill close to a reported 90,000 in several months, with perhaps millions more destined for the same fate; its vehicle of choice has been passenger jets.

Whether by accident (which seems almost certainly the case) or design, this deadly pandemic is a cause of mass destruction that comes from China. And China is not the first totalitarian power with global designs to understand that it has an unscrupulous advantage over free countries – even the most powerful free country in history – when it comes to tolerating the loss of human life in large quantities.

— Written by Thomas McArdle

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Issues & Insights is a new site formed by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

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