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Beijing's Compulsive Proliferation

March 9, 2020 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd) Photo(s): By
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army


COVID-19 emanating from Wuhan has brought Chinese bio-warfare experiments into focus.

On February 3, 2020, a Chinese Ship 'Dai Cui Yun' was detained by Customs at Kandla Port on basis of an intelligence tip off. The ship on way to Karachi, Pakistan was found carrying an autoclave, which is dual-use for civil and military purposes. DRDO officials who examined the 18 metre by 4 metre autoclave confirmed that the autoclave can be used to manufacture platforms for weapons of mass destruction (WMD), one official saying, "The autoclave can be used for the manufacture of the motor of very long range missiles, with range upwards of 1,500 km or even in the construction of a motor for the launch of satellites. Pakistan has the Shaheen-II missile in the 1,500-2,000 km range and the platform was tested last May."

The autoclave was being shipped by the and Hong Kong-based General Technology Company to the Islamabad-based United Construction Company. Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Delivery Systems fall under the purview of Prohibition of Unlawful Activities Act 2005. Under Indian law, any contravention of the above law attracts a punishment of not less than five years' imprisonment which may be extended to imprisonment for life with an added fine. Besides, nuclear proliferation is also an offence under the WMD Convention of the United Nations. However, the ship was permitted to proceed to Pakistan on February 20 without the autoclave.

The Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement on March 5 saying that the Chinese vessel had declared the autoclave to be an 'industrial dryer', and added, "Our examination has revealed that the item is an 'autoclave' that is controlled under the Dual Use Export Control List. Therefore, the item has been seized by our authorities as per our legal procedure. We have conveyed our concerns on this issue to the Chinese side and have highlighted that as a friendly country the Chinese government will take appropriate measures to ensure that the Chinese entities do not engage in activities that can contribute to proliferation". The MEA spokesperson said India also has the option of filing a case under the WMD Act.

The China-Pakistan-North Korea nuclear and missile cooperation is well established. China's blatant nuclear proliferation to Pakistan and North Korea commenced decades back with US looking the other way. China had also supplied nuclear capable Silkworm missiles to Saudi Arabia. China supplied 500 ring magnets to Pakistan to kick start its nuclear program and conducted the first Pakistani nuclear test on Chinese soil. To say that the US was unaware of all this is difficult to digest, amounting to Musharraf saying A.Q. Khan was doing all the proliferation on his own. In recent past there has also been discussion about a set of Pakistani nukes packed and ready to be shipped to Saudi Arabia in event of Iran going nuclear. In their book 'Nuclear Express', Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman brought out that during the regime of Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese were of the view that a use nuclear weapons against the West by radical and rogue countries would be good for China provided the trail is not traced back to China, hence covert nuclearization of Pakistan and North Korea. RAND Corporation quotes Japan's 'White Book' (annual report of the Japanese defense department) in saying Japanese believe that North Korea has achieved miniaturisation of nuclear weapons, and that it will continue to strive to improve the capabilities of its weapons including increasing range and accuracy of ballistic missiles.

Biological warfare is part of China's concept of 'Unrestricted Warfare' which was aimed at the destruction of the US. Casualties caused world-wide from COVID-19 emanating from Wuhan has brought Chinese bio-warfare experiments into focus. China's Biological Warfare Program, to include research and development and weaponization, is believed to be in advanced stage, its inventory including chemical and biological agents with multiple delivery systems including artillery rockets, aerial bombs, sprayers, and short-range ballistic missiles. That China is signatory to the Biological Warfare Convention (BWC) 1984 matters little because norms, conventions and international laws are treated like toilet paper by the Chinese government – denying breaches with arrogance. The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) broke out in China in November 2002. Was SARS virus a biological weapon experiment? But China reported it to the World Health organization only in February 2003, by which time (three months) the virus had spread from China to 37 countries. In 1993, US intelligence reported two Chinese research centers controlled by PLA were known to have engaged in production and storage of biological weapons (BW). In 1995, US President Clinton also told Congress that China probably maintains an offensive BW program. In 2001, US DoD stated, 'China possesses the munitions production capabilities necessary to develop, produce and weaponries biological agents'. Outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan was hidden by China for months till it became no more possible to hide it. The alacrity with which President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang rushed to Wuhan when the official casualty figures were quite small indicated there was something terribly amiss. COVID-19 has already affected 60 countries and casualty figures are rising with 100,000 infected globally.

According to an Australian study 1.5 crore people may die from the virus and global economy take a hit of $3 trillion plus. In July 2019, a group of Chinese scientists were accused in Canada for spying and were stripped of accessing Canada's National Microbiology Lab (NML) at Winnipeg. NML has reportedly been undertaking research on some of the world's most deadly human and animal pathogens, for allegedly smuggling bio-weapons to China, as reported in Canadian media. Chinese researchers have also been habitually selling laboratory animals to street vendors after finishing experimenting on them. With respect to WMDs, nuclear and biological included, there is little doubt that China has turned rogue. It does not mind killing its own citizens mercilessly but apparently it will end up destroying plenty humanity outside its borders in pursuit of its nefarious aims.