From a humanitarian perspective, we should issue a warning to the American people and persuade them to leave America and leave the land they have lived in to the Chinese people. Or at least they should leave half the United States to be China’s colony, because America was first discovered by the Chinese. But would this work? If this strategy does not work, then there is only one choice left to us. That is, use decisive means to ‘clean up’ America and reserve America for our use….”General Chi Haotian, 2003 Secret Speech
China’s defense minister, General Chi Haotian, looked at his desk calendar. On Saturday the Year of the Goat begins, he thought. The goat means luck. But I was born in the Year of the Snake – the “little dragon.” The skin of the snake is always cool, hiding a fervent heart. Chi looked out the window of his Defense Ministry Office at the smoggy Beijing skyline. The time was going by very quickly. He was scheduled to retire in March. How does an old snake retire? A copy of Sun Tzu’s Art of War sat on his desk. I will read classics, he thought to himself. Another book also sat on his desk. It was a volume of essays by Mao Zedong. He turned to the first section of the book, “Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society.”
General Chi read: “Who are our enemies, and who are our friends? This question is one of primary importance in the revolution. All past revolutionary struggles in China achieved very little, basically because the revolutionaries were unable to unite their real friends to attack their real enemies. A revolutionary party is the guide of the masses, and no revolution ever succeeds when the revolutionary party leads it astray. To make sure that we will not lead our revolution astray but will achieve….”
There came a sharp, short buzzing sound from the desk intercom. Chi answered. His secretary’s soft voice announced the arrival of Colonel Wei Fenghe, the leader of Planning Group A. “Send him directly in,” said General Chi, who rose from his chair to greet the colonel. This is a dangerous man, thought Chi, born in the Year of the Horse. He has many friends. He knows all the right people. One day he will have my job. The door of the spacious office opened and a stocky, slightly balding Colonel Wei entered the room, his hat tucked under his left arm. He was not as short as General Chi, who was the same height as the diminutive Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.
“Please have a seat on the sofa, Colonel Wei. You may pour yourself some tea,” he pointed to cups and a tea pot sitting on a small table to Wei’s right. Colonel Wei thanked him and said nothing. There came another buzz from Chi’s desk. The old general walked back to his large desk and flipped the switch. “Major General Fang Fenghui is here.” Chi replied, “Send him directly in.”
General Fang entered the room, saluted General Chi as a sign of respect. Ambiguously, Chi half-saluted and motioned Fang to partake of tea. “Please have some tea.” General Fang placed his hat on the hat rack, adjusted his wire-rim glasses and poured himself a cup of tea while Colonel Wei nodded in Fang’s direction. General Fang was about to assume command of the Guangzhou Military Region, but for now he was assigned by the Joint Staff Department to lead Planning Group B – in competition with Wei’s Planning Group A.
General Chi recalled that Fang was born in the Year of the Rabbit. Ridiculous, thought Chi. There is no fight in a rabbit. Why give a military region to a rabbit? But then, Fang was no ordinary rabbit. Fang knew where all the defense ministry’s bodies were buried, and he also knew where treasure could be found. Powerful and corrupt, thought Chi. I must be careful.
The two officers went to Chi’s sofa, placing their teacups on the pinewood coffee table. Chi sat down in an elegant chair opposite Wei and Fang. Then he posed a question: “What distinguishes the wise commander from the brutal, self-centered tyrant?”
“He seeks to preserve the people,” Colonel Wei answered.
“And what do you say, General Fang?”
“I cannot disagree.”
General Chi nodded. “Since you are the senior officer, and you are responsible for Team B, I will hear your report first.”
“Comrade General,” said Fang, “I did not come prepared for a briefing.”
General Chi smiled broadly. “This is an informal meeting. Just tell me what you have.”
“I have no briefing papers.”
General Chi made a clown’s face. “What does a clever man like you need papers for? I am an old man. My eyes are weak. Am I going to read your boring papers? No. When General Secretary Hu asks me about your plan on Saturday shall I say you have done nothing? He will not be pleased.”
General Fang squirmed and looked nervously at Colonel Wei, who smiled slightly. “Alright,” began General Fang. “Our strategic recommendation is for China to continue the Party’s successful policies. Gaining access to America’s capital markets, China’s low labor costs will make us the unmatched economic power of the world. In fifteen years, America’s industrial base will be in China. The Communist Party will control America’s industry and technology. When our superiority is assured, we will release one of the deadly viruses currently under development. Consequently, the hollow American economy will crumble. As they stagger, we will release yet another virus. The American political system will fail. They will be defenseless, without nuclear weapons, without a united government. We will simply take what we want.”
“And how long will this process take?” asked Chi.
“About thirty years,” answered General Fang.
“What do you think, Colonel Wei? Do you see any difficulties in General Fang’s plan?” asked Chi.
“General Fang has a good recipe,” Wei said with a faint smile. “But it needs some seasoning. The Americans always have their secret weapons, their black projects. We must not underestimate them. Therefore, we need our own secret weapon.”
“What kind of secret weapon?” asked General Fang. “A new type of bomb?”
“No bombs,” said Colonel Wei, turning his head calmly toward Fang. “We just put them to sleep forever.”
“An overdose of sleeping pills, then?” Fang mocked.
“In a manner of speaking,” replied Wei. “Our group has been working on a plan that is showing great promise; and the Americans are giving us everything we need to fulfill it.”
General Chi leaned forward in his chair. “Please continue, Colonel Wei. You have my full attention.”
“Imagine how the West will react to our viral pandemic. They will try anti-viral medications. But our agents and helpers in the West must discourage this. We must use our financial clout to dissuade them from a sensible course. Given our powerful friends in the Western media, we can move everything in the direction of a vaccine. All our resources – and those of our Russian allies – must be used to encourage the hasty development of a new and dangerous vaccine technology.”
“A vaccine?” General Chi asked.
“This is ludicrous,” General Fang interrupted. “If we encourage them to develop a vaccine our viral weapons might be neutralized before the damage is done.”
“Not if our medical science is quietly married to theirs,” said Colonel Wei. “Chinese companies and scientists can be positioned to lend a helping hand in making the new vaccines.”
“They would never allow us to make their vaccines,” said General Fang.
“True,” admitted Wei. “But we are already making vaccine precursors for the Americans. We are providing elements for their medicines. We only need to provide one ingredient, one misguided step. If our companies are in the vaccine production line, we might be able to add what the Americans call ‘secret sauce.’ Perhaps there is a fatal scientific premise our researchers could advance. Lead the Americans to the wrong pandemic solution. With the poor oversight involved in hasty vaccine development, the Americans and the Europeans could end up killing or crippling hundreds of millions of people.”
General Fang objected. “This is farfetched. They cannot be guided to a wrong solution. You would be caught in such a project, and China would suffer a nuclear revenge attack.”
“Possibly,” said Colonel Wei. “But we think the risk of discovery is very low. We can arrange things so that all blame for mistakes will be placed on American and European companies – on capitalism. After all, they are greedy and blameworthy.”
General Fang frowned. “The viral pandemic is already a perfect plan. Why complicate matters with a vaccine? It is too dangerous. It is adventurism.”
Colonel Wei smiled, “We are already deeply involved with all the major Western companies that make vaccines. They all rely on us. We are so cheap, so inexpensive, they cannot do without our services. In a few years we will be involved in making all their vaccines and medicines.”
General Fang interjected, “Then why are we not already poisoning them? What are we waiting for?”
General Wei said, “We are waiting for an emergency in which the U.S. Government requires every American to receive the same set of vaccines. If we can assure that these vaccines are deadly, we can kill off the Americans without a nuclear war. And, we can make it their fault. We can trick them into killing themselves.”
General Chi nodded. “No one needs to know we had a hand in it. That would be the perfect plan.”
General Fang laughed. “Do you really think they are so stupid?”
“They already are,” said Colonel Wei. “We make many things for them. Their stores are full of our products. But we cannot poison them with any product. It must be a product everyone is compelled to use. To succeed, we target their ‘big science,’ which is already corrupt. What better way to bring an end to capitalism than using it against itself? This has the virtue, as General Fang must agree, of relying on insights uniquely available to Marxism-Leninism. In the end, they will only have themselves to blame.”
“Colonel Wei, why does your team believe Western scientists will act like sheep?” Chi asked.
A momentary chill ran down Wei’s spine. Wei’s courage, however, did not forsake him. He had long anticipated General Chi’s question: “The American scientists already believe in global warming, which proves that they are sheep. Even those scientists who do not believe in global warming are afraid to raise their voices. They walk with their heads down, afraid to say anything. Our Russian friends have taught us how this works. Our active measures are strong. Anyone who opposes our narrative will be ostracized from the scientific community. We can work toward this level of control by infiltrating alternative media – exploiting our relationships with Google. We can impose a regime of privatized censorship, step by step. Everyone wants access to our market. We can hold this over their heads. We can control what is said and who is believed.”
“I do not fully understand,” said General Chi. “Why not allow the pandemic to do all the work like General Fang advises? Why add this dangerous step to the plan?”
Wei answered as follows: “What if the virus is weaker than we hope? What if the economic damage to their economy is insufficient? What if they develop anti-viral antidotes? We need our agents to promote a vaccine solution to the pandemic when fear has swept all reason aside.”
General Fang shook his head. “The West will notice that China and her allies are not taking a vaccine. This will make them immediately suspicious. They will detect our grand design.”
“We will have our own vaccine,” said Colonel Wei. “It will be a harmless substance. Why should we use a Western vaccine when our science is better than theirs?”
General Chi covered his mouth with his left hand. His eyes widened. He withdrew his hand and closed his eyes for a moment. Then he began one of his dreaded monologues on Chinese history, which often put his listeners to sleep. Only his listeners on this occasion were eager to hear every word: “During the Warring States Period,” Chi began, “many assassinations took place. Some of the killings were done with daggers, but most were poisonings. Secret poisoning, when combined with palace intrigue, is more effective than a stabbing. The dynastic histories record hundreds of successful murders, with thousands of dead food tasters. The artistic approach to poisoning always involved elaborate plots mounting false accusations to exploit court jealousies and political rivalries. Colonel Wei, I must congratulate you. This plan of yours is perfect. Even if they detect the poison, we can lead them to blame their own system – the bankers and the big pharmaceutical companies.”
Colonel Wei nodded as General Fang stared at the Chinese defense minister with a hurt expression. Chi cast a fake smile toward both men. “I am eager to see your work on Saturday, General Fang. Your team has made a tremendous contribution to our strategic plan. You can give your papers to my secretary. And I especially look forward to your team’s report, Colonel Wei. I will be meeting with the General Secretary on Saturday. I will commend your work to him, personally. He will be very happy to hear of your progress. Now, if you will excuse me. I must finish my preparations for the upcoming Politburo study group.”
General Chi dismissed them with a wave of his hand. Each man bowed slightly and departed hat in hand. Chi walked back to his desk, sat down, and looked out his window at the polluted Beijing sky. In his head he recited the following lines from Sun Tzu’s Art of War:
Like a ghost, advance.
And become the enemy’s fatal star.
Colonel Wei Fenghe was promoted to general rank. He served as commander of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Forces from October 2012 to September 2017. He was appointed Minister of National Defense in 2018.
General Fang Fenghui was appointed Chief of the Joint [Military] Staff on October 25, 2012. In August, 2017 Fang was investigated for corruption. He was expelled from the Communist Party on October 16, 2018. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on February 20, 2019 for bribery.
General Chi Hoatian retired in March 2003 and spends his time reading Chinese history.
The people depicted in this story are real, the story itself is fictional. Any similarity to real events craves wary watching.
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