Did the Chinese military intentionally manufacture and release COVID-19 as a strategic weapon to advance Beijing’s interests? If the answer is “yes,” then that was an act of war and warrants a response. That question ought to be our intelligence community’s most pressing issue because if true then much worse might be over the horizon as relations with communist China continue to deteriorate.
Earlier this week I watched Dr. Li-Meng Yan’s interview with Fox News’ host Tucker Carlson. In that interview the doctor, a published virologist who enjoyed a high-ranking position at a World Health Organization lab in China, said the COVID-19 virus was created in a Chinese military laboratory and “it is spread to the world to make such damage.”
Dr. Yan, who said she was one of the first scientists in the world to study the novel coronavirus, fled China to the U.S. and currently fears retaliation. She has good reason to fear for her life IF she is correct in her allegation.
There is yet another Chinese defector in Europe, now under the protection of a European government, that, according to the Washington Times, provided information about China’s biological arms program that has reached the U.S. government.
Purposely releasing a bioweapon for whatever reason would be a clear act of war. Classically, an act of war is an action by one country against another with an intention to provoke a war or a response that wins the aggressor an advantage. There are numerous possible motivations in such a scenario, if true.
Are the communist Chinese engaged in a biological war against the U.S. and much of the West? No doubt the government in Beijing is serious about arming-up for a future war. The Pentagon’s 2020 report to Congress on communist China’s military developments chronicles the regime’s explosive war-making developments aimed at making that country a world-class armed force by 2035 and perhaps the global hegemon by 2049. The People’s Liberation Army already leads the U.S. in numbers of combatant ships, air defense systems and numbers and ranges of ballistic and cruise missiles.
It is curious that the Pentagon’s new report makes no mention of China’s biological weapons, if in fact they exist. Yet China’s neighbors - North Korea, Japan and Russia - have significant histories of hosting extensive biological weapons programs. Likely, whatever we know about any past or current Chinese biological weapons program is highly classified which explains its absence in the recent Pentagon reporting.
Use of biological agents for warfare has a long history, however. Certainly, the Nazis are known for such research but so are China’s neighbors like Russia and not so long ago.
Remember in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union President George H. W. Bush met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin at Camp David, where among the issues discussed was the security of Russia’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Later that year (1992), the Nunn-Lugar Act established the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program to fund the dismantling of weapons in the former Soviet Union.
The Soviet’s biological weapons laboratories were run by secret police agencies such as Laboratory 12 and Kamera. Prisoners from the Gulags were exposed to a number of deadly poisons, the purpose of which was to find a tasteless, odorless chemical that could not be detected post mortem. Perhaps the reader will suspect that the Russians haven’t completely abandoned biological weapons when you reflect on a recent report that a political opponent of President Vladimir Putin fell gravely ill to a nerve agent.
The imperial Japanese Army prior to and during World War II performed covert biological warfare research in a laboratory called Unit 731. That unit was responsible for some of the most atrocious war crimes in history and their subjects, many Chinese and Russians, were subjected to germ war experiments.
The savage North Korean regime is known to have carried out disturbing experiments on their citizens. Some were victimized by experimental food laced with deadly substances, others were crammed into a black van known as “the crow” and taken to locations for experiments using poisons.
Even the Central Intelligence Agency led the U.S. government with a long history of some of the most unethical human experiments such as Project QKHILLTOP which developed secret drugs and various brain damaging procedures. And in 1956 and 1957, the U.S. Army conducted biological warfare experiments on the cities of Savannah, Georgia, and Avon Park, Florida. Millions of infected mosquitos were released into the cities, in order to see if the insects could spread yellow fever and dengue fever. Hundreds of people contracted illnesses.
The contemporary Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA is a very secretive, congressionally created military science agency. DARPA’s newest unit is devoted to studying the interaction of biology and engineering, the Biological Technologies Office. It investigates “synthetic biology” for the Pentagon’s Office of Technical intelligence which engineers DNA to improve their ability to understand, predict, design and build biological systems.
So, given the history of biological warfare and the fact that the Pentagon itself is exploring “synthetic biology,” it would not be surprising that a globally ambitious communist Chinese regime might be doing much the same and for hostile purposes. Further, is it totally out of the question that by accident or by design a very viral genetically modified virus like COVID 19, created in a hypothetical Chinese military laboratory, was released upon the world late last year and now its release is paying dividends to its sponsor? Coincidence or act of war?
Evidently, according to the State Department, China may in fact still have an active albeit covert biological weapons program. “The United States has compliance concerns with respect to Chinese military medical institutions’ toxin research and development because of the potential dual-use applications and their potential as a biological threat,” a State report said. “In addition, the United States does not have sufficient information to determine whether China eliminated its assessed biological warfare program, as required under Article II of the [Biological Weapons] Convention.”
Meanwhile, this May, according to the Washington Times, a senior Trump administration official disclosed that China is working in secret on biological weapons, including arms capable of targeting specific ethnic groups with pathogens. “We are looking at potential biological experiments on ethnic minorities,” the official said.
Even Chinese military publications describe “biology” as a domain of warfare and one report warns that a future war could involve “ethnic genetic attacks.”
Just maybe COVID-19 was produced and deployed to weaken the West in the first assault to create a new world order governed out of Beijing. That’s a question our intelligence agencies must pursue. But based on this week’s mandates from our secretary of defense, Mark Esper, America has taken off the gloves when it comes to China. Everything the Pentagon does in the future to prepare for the next war, according to Esper, will focus on our large adversary in Asia. Game on!
Robert Maginnis is the author of Future War, which addresses the application of sophisticated technologies to win an advantage over near peer adversaries. He is also the author of Alliance of Evil: Russia, China, the United States and a New Cold War. In that book Maginnis argues we are already in a cold war with China on four fronts: cyber, economic, military technology and ideological.