For many years China has been an important factor in our world and national foreign affairs. Covid-19 has increased the China factor exponentially and we are still not fully aware of the implications and intentions regarding this virus. Conspiracy theories abound and are somewhat fearsome in their suggestions. It is easy to dismiss them, even ignore them as extreme, but we do so only at our risk and ruin. We must understand China and what it has become before we can make any possible judgments as to what maybe true and accurate regarding this unfolding crisis. There are many things beyond the viral threat involved in this crisis.
In 2005 a group of administrators, faculty and relatives traveled to an international conference at Lanzhou University of Technology (LUT) in Lanzhou, Ghansu, China. Eighteen faculty and staff from East Texas Baptist University (ETBU), eight spouses, some children, and five faculty from other universities, including LeTourneau, Howard Payne, and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor composed the group. The conference at LUT involved American professors presenting papers on various academic/scholarly subjects, along with their Chinese counterparts. We learned a great deal about the Chinese academics and culture in this experience at a university of over 20,000 students. Lanzhou is a city of over three million people on the Yellow River on the edge of the Gobi Desert and is a petrochemical center and part of China’s national nuclear and space programs. LUT is a key academic/technical institute in these large programs.
I share these memories and information to let you know that many of us who have visited China have great concern for the Chinese people and what is happening there as a result of this situation.
China is one of the important nations in Asia and the world. The importance of this nation cannot be overemphasized, as the following information from this 2005 experience will attest—China’s population in 2005 topped 1.3 billion people; China’s economic output exceeded $1.6 trillion, and was expected to triple over the next 15 years, overtaking Japan in 2015 and the U.S. by 2039. The nation already had the fastest-growing large economy and at that time the second largest holding of foreign-exchange reserves, mostly dollars. Just one example of the importance of this nation can be seen in its relationship with one large U. S. business.
Wal-Mart imported $18 billion worth of goods from China in 2004. At that time the company had 6,000 suppliers, 80 percent of them from just one country, and it wasn’t the United States, it was China. China has the largest army in the world and the world’s fourth largest defense budget (which is rising at the rate of 10% per year). Collectively, China represents a huge market with unbelievable potential buying power. These statistics are over 16 years old. We must recognize that what these old facts present have only soared in numbers, percentages and values.
For centuries China was a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under Chairman Mao Zedong’s leadership overcame the Chinese Nationalists and instituted an autocratic socialist (communist) system. This system assured China’s sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life, and resulted in the loss of millions of lives.
Under Chairman Mao’s leadership the People’s Republic of China made phenomenonal progress. In fact, there was such progress that the evangelical leader Donald Grey Barnhouse, editor of Eternity, a Christian national magazine, named Mao as “the man of the year” in 1958.
Chairman Mao led in the elimination of millions in his country as he worked to create a new nation and a pliable, compliant population. Hitler was not the worst villain in the 20th century. There were others – Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin being probably the two worst in the last century. I bring this up merely to point out that the government of China does not value human life. It has easily and still today easily disposes of inconvenient human elements. This is what we see unfolding in China and tragically the rest of the world in this crisis originating in Wuhan.
Wuhan is another very important university and scientific studies center in China but far different than Lanzhou. Wuhan is the home of the Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. This is the only Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) lab in China. This is the highest level of biosafety precautions that are appropriate for work with agents easily aerosol-transmitted that can cause severe to fatal disease in human or other animals.
These caustic agents have no vaccines or treatments that can bring relief or healing. In these facilities the workers must have protective-suits and filtering systems to assure the workers are prevented from infections and lethal complications. The Wuhan facility was obviously handling the most dangerous and deadly bio-agents. This lab had been warned in 2017 that there was concern a deadly virus could escape and that more rigid precautions should be instituted.
In November of 2019 there was the release (accidental or intentional) of a virus that has killed thousands and will likely take more thousands over the next few months. Covid-19 is a Frankenstein of a virus created by human science.
An early version of this virus was created at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A report was published in November 2015 highlighting what these scientists from China, Switzerland and the United States created. An important connection in this is Dr. Zheng-Li Shi who works in the Wuhan BSL-4 laboratory on coronaviruses. Dr. Shi and other scientists working in the North Carolina lab learned how to engineer the genetic coding inside viruses, inserting SARS, HIV and MERS proteins making them even more deadly and untreatable.
This new virus is an enhanced version of the original creation back in 2015 that was reported in the scholarly paper.
Our “community conversation” continues as we face the virus crisis during these critical times. We need to share together accurate information and we need to use good common sense in our relationships and participation activities.