Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020 | Last Update : 07:12 PM IST

China virus: A prelude to chem and bio warfare?

The writer is an advocate practising in the Supreme Court. The views expressed here are personal.
Published : Feb 3, 2020, 1:32 am IST
Updated : Feb 3, 2020, 1:32 am IST

The declining populace of 130 million Russians are no match for China’s upswinging economy of 1.4 billion people.

Today, however, Chinese laboratories faced a big blow owing to the coronavirus “leakage”.
 Today, however, Chinese laboratories faced a big blow owing to the coronavirus “leakage”.

The Communist world, including China, is known for its ingrained psyche of secrecy. The Chinese Communists, however, have the added characteristic of mass-scale research and experiments on anything or everything artificial. Which can substitute cats and dogs, just as much as men or women, and can create “artificial intelligence” to replace human intelligence. Undoubtedly, though a futuristic/fertile idea, it comes with the tag of the Han Chinese being carnivorous, with a penchant for eating and gulping anything which moves.

This, however, isn’t about any (non-vegetarian or vegetarian) food habits, or otherwise, of any nation, nationality or ethnic group. Yet the question comes to mind. How much and how far should homo sapiens go to consume the flesh of a (non-human) dead body? And, what possible long-term damage can the consumed dead body of animals inflict on the blood composition and system of human beings? Does it fundamentally make man strong in the short, and weak in the long, run? Does it have anything to do with a carnivore like Genghis Khan’s perilous existence, in later life — after having consumed excessive “cooked” dead bodies of animals, as meat, throughout his reign?

That said, if the present Chinese-origin coronavirus, which has already impacted the whole world, doesn’t abate soon, critical questions will be raised about China’s overall intentions. Is this virus as simple as it’s being made out to be by Beijing? Since Chinese PM Li Keqiang initiated economic, political and diplomatic damage control measures to curb the adverse impact on China’s overall image, is China on a treacherous path?

China will definitely abhor the prospect of its status diminishing at a time of such high-octane global projects as the Belt and Road Initiative, among others. Beijing’s Communist czars may soon face closer scrutiny by its people, who might challenge their iron grip on the State. It may also pose an existential internal threat to its superpower dreams, with a presence in every continent, landlocked states, (remote) empty islands, glittering city states with gambling dens and tax-free banking systems. All these are now under threat from a toxic virus wave.

Beyond this grandiose scheme, however, is hidden the Chinese building of a “chemical and biological warfare” capability. It’s the secrecy and silence of the Chinese which the world finds inscrutable. The Chinese continue to nurse a grudge deep inside — something akin to Germany after the 1919 Paris Peace Conference following the First World War — against all those foreign enemy states of the 19th-20th century imperial era, Japan included. Tokyo, as perceived even today, did Beijing in. Thus, when Japan and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding in July 1999 on the destruction of abandoned chemical weapons in China, followed by a report of the Japanese ministry of foreign affairs, December 1999, that Japanese troops abandoned approximately 700,000 chemical munitions in China during their retreat at the end of the Second World War, Beijing certainly couldn’t be taking kindly to it. Any serious tracker of the contours of Chinese history and the collective psyche of present-day Communist rulers would understand what awaits future Chinese moves.

In the case of broader (potentially devastating) chemical and biological warfare, however, the world woke up with its first serious act — when the Biological & Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) began work in 1972, followed by the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and operations of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in 2005.

In this background, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1540 by consensus, calling upon member states to report on steps taken to control materials and technologies that could be used for nuclear and biological weapons (NBW). Here, it would be important to remember that India played a very positive role on the issue. Thus, although official public information on the type and quantity of India’s chemical weapon stockpile is limited, yet “India met its deadline for destroying 45 per cent of its Category 1 stocks and was reported to have completed destruction of 80 per cent of its total stocks”. [CBW Convention Bulletin, No. 66 (December 2004), Page 8.]

The exemplary act by India apart, the future of man doesn’t look bright as too many adverse reports are emerging from all corners. Bertrand Russell’s 1961 book Has man a future? appears so relevant! A nuclear war resulting in “unmitigated calamity”! Is China doing a “CBW” to establish herself in a peaceful graveyard?

There exist today several global hotspots which are under close scrutiny of a concerned UN and its members on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and chemical and biological weapons/warfare (CBW), especially the latter. The world, however, seems more interested in poor, resource-rich Third World states. In the process, a giant like China appears to be escaping the world’s scrutiny as it is operating below the radar.

That China is hugely into CBWs and WMDs goes without saying. Today, however, Chinese laboratories faced a big blow owing to the coronavirus “leakage”. This may well be a prelude, if uncorrected, to a catastrophic Chinese venture — as it has certainly awakened the world to the reality that is China today. In fact, it appears that the coronavirus could well be compared to the slow poisoning of humans through a chemical weapons system, in contrast to the Salisbury incident of March 4, 2018 in which Russia allegedly used a toxic chemical (acetylcholinesterase inhibitor) in which was present a nerve agent. Though Russian ambassador Alexander Shulgin had then described the alleged Russian involvement as “unfounded and absolutely unacceptable”, it didn’t take away any of the dangers of CBWs.

China’s position today, in comparison to Russia, is totally different. The declining populace of 130 million Russians are no match for China’s upswinging economy of 1.4 billion people. Plus, the physical presence of hordes of Chinese, as tourists, technicians or telecommunications operators, along with its standard or sub-standard manufactured goods, definitely constitute a grave threat to our planet. Yet much of the world, like India, refuses to acknowledge the imminent danger it lies in. It’s time to keep off China — physically, materially, financially, technically as well as commercially. Or else, as after the epic Mahabharata battle, we may again face the peace of the graveyard!

Tags: china virus, coronavirus