In May, official Beijing had a major falling out with the World Health Organization (WHO). The spat was provoked by top WHO officials’ criticism of China's "zero COVID" strategy in its fight against the coronavirus.
Moreover, this criticism was levelled when it was clear that China had been succeeding in taking control of the current wave of the epidemic and driving down the number of new infections. This created the impression that international officials were interested in extending China's "coronavirus crisis" for as long as possible. As has become customary, "by pure chance" the outbreak in China occurred when the international community was looking for ways to "put Beijing in its place".
China has been taking such acts of biological warfare much more seriously than any other country. And for a reason, too. Being the way they are, the Chinese are incredibly vulnerable to biological agents, and a successful large-scale attack on the health of China’s citizens could bring down the government and decimate the country’s population, as evidenced by what happened during the 19th century Opium Wars.
At the end of February, China was hit with a new major outbreak of coronavirus infection. With Shanghai and major port cities most affected, the incidence rate soared, prompting the authorities to introduce a very strict lockdown.
The epidemic peaked at about 30,000 new daily cases by mid-April until finally taking a sharp downturn in early May. Since May 2021, China has recorded between 30 and 40 new cases a day. By comparison, in late February and early March 2022, new infections climbed to several hundred.
On May 10, "only" 8,219 new cases were recorded, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Chinese government's harsh and even painful response measures adversely affecting the nation’s economy (full and partial lockdowns, mass-scale COVID testing, the introduction of various restrictions, etc.).
It was right at that very moment that, during a WHO briefing on May 10, WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus questioned the appropriateness of Beijing's coronavirus policy. "When we talk about the zero-COVID strategy, we don't think that it's sustainable, considering the virus's behaviour now and what we anticipate in the future… We have discussed this issue with Chinese experts, and we indicated that the approach will not be sustainable," he added.
These remarks by Mr Ghebreyesus were echoed by Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, who spoke after him. Ryan noted that in addition to the impact of any coronavirus control measures on a country's economy, the human rights impact of the zero-COVID policy must also be considered. Ghebreyesus’s statement prompted a strong negative reaction back in China, and access to the pages where his statement was published was eventually blocked.
The current COVID-19 outbreak in China, the worst since the pandemic, coincided almost precisely with Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Confronted by Russia's technology and trade blockade by the West, many in Moscow were expressing hopes for Beijing’s strategic support.
This support would primarily include various solutions to facilitating international settlements, procurement of different types of hardware, mainly telecom equipment, etc. The unexpected new outbreak of the COVID-19 that hit China’s economy hard effectively helped throw cold water on Beijing’s enthusiasm.
China refused to provide its support in all crucial matters to Russia. Out of fear of being subjected to second-hand sanctions, key local companies and banks have refused to work with Moscow. In short, this represents a case of a surgical and limited use of a biological weapon to achieve a particular goal.
It was no random occurrence that the global spread of the weapons-grade coronavirus developed in 2015 by an international group of researchers at the US-based Galveston National Laboratory (GNL) originated in China.
Incidentally, this has to do with the geopolitical objectives of the US and the "unscrupulousness" of China in picking their counterparts in military affairs. Two of the Chinese researchers employed by the laboratory in Wuhan, where COVID-19 sprang out and started spreading around the world, were part of the original team that had developed the coronavirus.
This was not the first time that China had made its sites and facilities available to the US military in the hope use the Americans to get the knowledge and expertise needed for their military research. COVID-19's history, its origins that have been linked to US-supervised military Biolabs, and the way it was used have all been relatively well studied, and the results of such studies are publicly available.
However, the origins of COVID precursor viruses (such as SARS-Cov, the avian flu, etc.) and the causes for their spread inside China are yet to be studied.
China's callous response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the WHO's interference may seem excessive to a Western observer. Indeed, China's morbidity and mortality rates, both in absolute and relative terms, seem utterly negligible compared to those of the US, Russia, the EU countries, or Brazil.
Throughout the pandemic, China, with a population of 1.5 billion, recorded just 1.12 million infected, of whom 5,200 people died. Paradoxically, however, biological warfare and activities of US-run laboratories being operated close to the country's borders are fraught with untenable risks that can result in a collapse of the state of China.
This has to do with the extreme susceptibility of ethnic Chinese nationals to biological agents, including weapons-grade viruses, due to their genetics linked to their traditional diet and specific traits of their biochemical and hormonal structures.
To give an example, for thousands of years, the consumption of animals of the canine family, such as dogs, badgers, etc., has been an essential element of the diet of China’s military and political elites (this used to be even more widespread). Before these animals are killed and cooked, they are cruelly tortured to ensure that as much adrenaline as possible gets released into the animal's bloodstream. The Chinese are also known to consume edible bird nests and many other kinds of exotic food that are generally not everyday staples in the neighbouring countries of that region.
China remembers well the tragedy caused by the 19th century Opium Wars that led to a century of "disgrace and humiliation", degradation of the state and society, and a demographic catastrophe. In 1842, China’s population stood at 416,118,200, of whom 2 million were drug addicts, compared with the population of only 369,183,000 in 1881, of whom as many as 120 million were addicted.
The opium-induced genocide was ended only after the Communist Party of China (CPC) came to power, having had to resort to brutal repressions and destruction of poppy plantations. US military biolaboratories in neighbouring Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and several Central Asian countries, whose populations’ genetics are close to those living in China, pose a clear and present threat.
The risk that large masses of China’s population could be affected and their immune systems compromised, very much in line with the Opium Wars playbook, is exceptionally high, and Beijing is well aware of this risk. This is what has largely precipitated the toughness and rigour of China’s response to the COVID threat inside the country and its willingness to "heed warnings" and take America’s cues on handling some of its affairs.