In 1992 President Boris Yeltsin of Russia opened for international inspection an honest-to-goodness archipelago that had been developing biological superweapons up to 1991. What is a superweapon? A weapon against which an opponent has neither defense, nor retaliatory deterrent. Firearms were Europe’s superweapon with respect to the nations that had none. In 1945 there appeared superweapon No. 2 (nuclear arms), and Japan surrendered for all of her suicidal militarism. Up to 1991 Soviet Russia had been searching on a stupendous scale for a biological superweapon as superweapon No. 3.
What stark historic truth follows from Yeltsin’s exposure of the Soviet rulers’ development on such a mind-boggling countrywide scale of a biological superweapon?
Before 1992, a normal mentally average person could infer the Soviet rulers’ development of superweapons on the basis of the following reasoning:
An American common criminal may commit murder (and thus risk the apprehension and possible death sentence) in order to acquire several thousand, or even only several hundred dollars. The United States has never had absolutism, and hence many Americans cannot perceive the value of absolute power for its holder. But a holder of absolute power also controls the country’s wealth, running into trillions of dollars if the country is large enough.
If a common criminal is sufficiently motivated by several thousand or even hundred dollars to commit a risky murder, what about an absolute power-holder’s trillions of dollars? The West subverts absolute power-holders by its very existence — by what has come to be called "democracy.”
Gorbachev hoped to obtain superweapon No. 3 to dominate the West and thus stop the subversion. He had failed to obtain superweapon No. 3 (but not for want of trying!) and had his absolute power subverted, from which Deng in China and his successors drew a lesson if they needed any, with Chinese absolutism flourishing for four if not five millennia. The Soviet rulers understood (what normal, mentally average person would not?) that in 1949 nuclear weapons ceased to be a global superweapon and became a deterrent—a means of mutual assured destruction. But surely science and technology did not stop in 1949! Hence the Soviet quest for superweapon No. 3.
Yet in the twenty years — from 1972, when I came to the United States, up to 1992, when Yeltsin showed the bioweapons archipelago — I never read or saw or heard in the mainstream media even a conjecture that the Soviet rulers may develop biological or any other post-nuclear superweapons. I subscribed, in particular, to the Pentagon’s annual publications The Soviet Military Power. No surmise of the Soviet stupendous development of biological or any other post-nuclear superweapons!
After the defection of a participant in the Soviet mammoth project late in the 1980s, at least some Western leaders learned about it, but they kept secret the horrendous discovery from the public in order to preserve what they perceived as their "getting on well with” the Nobel Peace Prize-winner Gorbachev.
The Chinese rulers’ rationale for the development of superweapon No. 3 has been the same as was that of the Soviet rulers except that Chinese rulers rest on the millennia of Chinese absolutism. If not the fall of Gorbachev’s absolutism, then the Tiananmen turmoil within China itself have shown them again that even the Chinese millennial absolutism is bound to be subverted by what came to be called "democracy” in the 20th century. They have to obtain superweapon No. 3, against which the West will have neither defense, nor way of retaliation, that is, will be in the position of Japan versus U.S. nuclear weapons in 1945.
However, in terms of secrecy, the development of biological weapons in China differs from what it was in Soviet Russia. Why were the Soviet rulers so secretive about it? In the 1980s the Soviet nuclear missile power was at a par with NATO if not in excess of it. Moscow was already under a missile defense umbrella, while armed with cruise missiles, the Soviet submarines off the U.S. Pacific and Atlantic coastline would have been able to destroy the United States with cruise missiles even if President Reagan had realized his SDI against Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Obviously, the Soviet mammoth program of development of biological superweapons was the best proof of what Senator and then President Kennedy had called "the Soviet quest for world domination.” Hence the Soviet rulers’ development of biological superweapons was their secret of secrets, though they overreacted in this respect: they assumed that the West had a geostrategic brain, but even after it became clear that Gorbachev had been developing bacteriological superweapons on a stupendous scale, his Western image has remained as benign as before —the Nobel Peace Prize winner dedicated to peace and democracy.
China has no need to fear that from her development of bacteriological superweapons the West will infer her quest for world domination: the West is sure to perceive the development of these weapons as China’s compensation for her lack of nuclear missile parity with NATO. Therefore, while not a word alluding to the Soviet biological warfare research could ever be found in the Soviet media, "biological/bacteriological warfare” has been a household phrase in China, just as are the words "bombing” or "tanks” in the West and in Russia.
In the chivalry of Judeo-Christian civilization, steel and then firearms were noble: "bombing,” and even nuclear bombing, is an extension of artillery, and "tanks” are mechanized armored knights. On the other hand, the use of biological weapons is a monstrous crime against humanity. As we discussed this essay at lunch, Chris Ruddy, editor of NewsMax, drew a remarkable contrast: even Hitler, who annihilated over 12 million innocent irrelevant civilians, disdained biological warfare, while Tojo’s Japan, not guilty of such mass annihilations, conducted biological warfare experiments on prisoners of war, in particular in China. The radio talk show host Barry Farber, present at the discussion, cited a case when the Germans during the Second World War observed international conventions in the treatment of prisoners of war even when they were Jews!
As the Chinese rulers falsely accused the United States half a century ago of waging biological war in Korea, the Soviet media presented this never-was "war” as a "monstrous crime against humanity,” while the Chinese media presented it as biological warfare, mortally dangerous, but not morally worse or better than, for example, bombing—in particular, nuclear bombing — and requiring war preparedness just as any other modern warfare.
That was what China has since been doing openly and officially: preparing for biological warfare. Here is a generally available Chinese study of "military medicine,” depicting and describing a mobile biological weapons detection lab as it was introduced in 1974. Apart from its instrumentation, quite sophisticated even by today’s standards a quarter of a century later, it is supplied with about 200 bacteria and 50 virus samples for reference and identification.
So, to keep the detection of germs up-to-date for defense against them, it is necessary to produce all possible latest germs as well. Defensive biological warfare research thus becomes also its offensive biological warfare counterpart.
When the Chinese rulers signed in 1984 the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, they officially submitted the following list of "facilities of the national defensive biological warfare R & D program”:
(1) Dual Use/Biological Warfare Defense Research Facilities
Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology.
(2) Vaccine Production Facilities
a. National Vaccine and Serum Institute
b. Shanghai Institute of Biological Products
c. Lanzhou Institute of Biological Products
d. Changchun Institute of Biological Products
e. Wuhann Institute of Biological Products
f. Chengdu Institute of Biological Products
g. Institute of Medical Biology of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
Officially, all these biological warfare research institutions are defensive, and officially, no offensive biological superweapons are produced or developed. But unofficially? The impression is that the Chinese rulers do not, for the time being, mind the West knowing unoffically about their development of offensive biological superweapons to counter a possible Western nuclear missile shield, going back to Ronald Reagan’s SDI, never realized. Here is in front of me — no, not an official document, either published or secret, but a four-page article (from the Wuhan TV station magazine) I have received from China. The article is about Guojia 863 jidua, National 863 Project. Translated from the Chinese:
In early 1986 two famous Chinese scientists, Wang Da Ian and Chen Fong Uan, came up with a proposal for the development of new advanced technologies for defensive and offensive [!] warfare [the emphasis is mine — L.N.] After these two scientists recommendations had been approved, they and two other scientists, Wong Chi Chong and Yang Cha Chi, took their proposal on March 2, 1986, to the highest leader of China.
Much to their plesant surprise, Deng Xiao Ping approved it promptly, on March 5, 1986, with this comment: "Execute it as quickly as possible! No delay!” After that there had been seven meetings, and on Nov. 18, 1986, the government put forward an outline of the high-tech development project, named "863.” It was called "863” because Deng approved it in March 1986.
The Project 863 has been doing research in seven broad areas of possible superweaponry, with genetic engineering, basic to biological warfare, at the top of the list. Since 1986 the double helix, symbolizing genetic engineering, has replaced in China the atom as the symbol of the leading national science and technology.
Given the enormous possibilities of concentration of human and other resources on the growth of such a project in the peacetime, its geostrategic impact can readily be grasped. But I have not seen or heard it mentioned in the past 14 years in any testimony by the CIA or the Department of Defense or any other entity to the Congress. Nor has it been mentioned in such studies as "Case Study 6: People’s Republic of China," published in 1998 by the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute in Alexandria, Va., or "China and Weapons of Mass Destruction," published in April 2000 by the National Intelligence Council and the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. It was only on Oct. 7, 2000, that I found the first mention in the West of the 863 Project — in a New York Times report from China (p. 3) about her dizzying progress in farming due to "genetically modified crops,” in which China is leading the world. The quest for post-nuclear superweaponry at the 863 Project — in genetic engineering, for example —inevitably has a civilian spillover. Hence the dizzying Chinese progress in farming.
One may think that the New York Times immediately commissioned a report from China on the 863 Project. Front-page epoch-making news! Fourteen years later, but better late than never. Deeply agitated, I phoned the correspondent, Craig Smith, in China. He turned out to be an extremely fine and intelligent person, and we exchanged a couple of e-mails.
I seem to have been the only person interested in his three-paragraph description (inside his half-a-page agricultural article) of the 863 Project. Obviously, the New York Times has not been interested. The dizzying progress of Chinese farming due to genetic engineering as a spillover of the 863 biological weaponry research? Yes, this is interesting! But the biological weaponry research itself? The Western opinion-makers have not been interested in this life-or-death issue for the West, which does not have the geostrategic brain to worry about its geostrategic survival.
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