The first global war of the 21st century began in December without a shot fired. A Wuhan doctor in China noticed some patients admitted to the hospital were exhibiting viral pneumonia consistent with SARS. Only it wasn’t SARS. When he tried to sound the alarm, he triggered the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) authoritarian control on information. Discussion of the illness was prohibited, and the doctor – who tried to warn colleagues through social media – was detained. The results of patient samples that had been sequenced to reveal their genomes were quickly squashed, and the samples destroyed before the results could be made public.
The WHO was notified early on, but they were prevented by the CCP to travel to Wuhan. Meanwhile, the CCP denied there was any danger to the public while 175,000 people traveled from Wuhan to all over China and the world. The virus was now set free to follow the new way of war detailed in the pages of Unrestricted Warfare. This book was written by two Peoples Liberation Army Colonels as a strategy to defeat a militarily superior United States.
The new way of war – trade, economic, propaganda and media – has now been unleashed to aid the Chinese Communist Party. To better understand this, forget everything known about how the world works. Instead, think of globalization and the internet turned into a weapon, in a no-holds-barred assault of competitive aggression unassociated with military might – and this is how China is waging war.
Following the Unrestricted Warfare thought, in CCP hands, globalization becomes weaponized. The CCP has spent decades utilizing globalization to slowly take control of the world’s trading system, dominate key industries and markets, build a global media and internet presence, and deploy subjects and diplomats around the world. Therefore, when the time comes these elements can easily be brought together for three intentional actions – deflect blame, cause panic, take advantage.
Deflect blame. Because the CCP controls Chinese language media everywhere with an iron grip, they can rile an army of ‘victims’ to deflect their own culpability for the pandemic. Chinese language social media uses the often-utilized practice of crying racism and stoking nationalism to instill fear and revenge in those inside and outside the country. These activated citizens can then be spontaneous in their response by creating “hug me I’m not a virus” campaigns. Meanwhile, the citizens under lock-down are blocked from sharing their boots-on-the-ground point of view as social media is further restricted and censored. Abroad, a full media and diplomatic blitzkrieg can be levied to ensure the virus is not named according to its origin, which gives way to another campaign to establish that it came from another country. Finally, flush with horded supplies the CCP can feign being good Samaritans as they earn profits on price gouging the world on personal protective equipment (PPE). Ultimately, deflecting blame props up the CCP message about the superiority of their Communist system.
Cause panic. Fear is one of the strongest human motivators. Since the CCP controls the supply chain, they can activate internal and external actors to lock down the supply of medical equipment, fueling fear. This is accomplished by denying the export of certain items like masks, threatening to ban the export of others like pharmaceuticals, and buying up any foreign domestic stock using their networks abroad. The rest is done by us. Fear is strengthened by hyper-inflated models that are blasted 24/7 to add to a frenzy that incentivizes even more media consumption. Panic buying, hoarding, and the political blame game follow, adding to the cycle.
Take advantage. This is the true goal of weaponized globalization. The CCP wages a global game of ‘Go’ with a constant focus and intermittent opportunities for accelerated risk-taking for greater gains. The first bold move on the Go board was during the 2008 financial crisis, when the CCP stepped from the United States’ financial shadow. China was the beneficiary of much of the fiscal stimulus the US created to get out of crisis, because US banks flush with cash loaned it to China for real estate development. The difference between the current #CCPVirus-inspired crisis and 2008 is this time the CCP holds the advantage. They knew about the virus beforehand and could therefore control the outflow of information and people. Any Wall Street veteran knows a pandemic will cause a panic in the market. Thus, the CCP was well-positioned to liquidate positions, probably quietly before anyone was even paying attention. Their next educated guess would have been that the US and others would enact a vast stimulus bill, which would flow into China by virtue of the fact they held all the supply chains – more profits pour in. Meanwhile, flush with cash, they can shore up US and other companies with that cash further solidifying control. As an added benefit, they may reverse or at least slow down the US effort to prevent the deployment of the Chinese 5G networks that will take all data back to China and fulfill Kai Fu Li’s dream of becoming “the Saudi Arabia of data.”
Game. Set. Match.
Without understanding how the CCP views the world and their place in it, one will never be able to anticipate the threat. In the West, each crisis is tackled according to its circumstances. Democratic governments rush to meet the needs of its citizens. But the CCP’s expertly designed totalitarian system affords its leaders the benefits of seeing past their subject’s welfare to furthering the CCP with more power and advantage. They can impose harsh policies and can comfortably accept the inevitable scorn of having allowed a pandemic to escape their borders, because in a global game of Go high risk yields high reward.
In the aftermath, we will endlessly debate whether the #CCPVirus was deliberately created and released, or a freak of nature. The debate will be used to deflect attention that the CCP deliberately created the global pandemic. The United States also tends to project our democratic system onto the CCP, and loses sight of the fact that controlling the vast authoritarian enterprise is a mixture of entrepreneurship and direct action, without the humanitarian spirit. In other words, most are doing it for the money, while some are deliberately directed.
Unrestricted Warfare has documented this all. The paper was a perfectly designed guide for manipulating the post-Cold War world. Until one can see the world from the adversary’s point of view, one will be ever at a disadvantage. But all is not yet lost. It’s time to protect, encourage and let loose the one antidote to the CCP pandemic, the enduring American spirit to throw off and be from tyranny.
Gen. Rob Spalding is a national security policy strategist, globally recognized for his knowledge of Chinese economic competition and influence. He has served in senior positions of strategy and diplomacy within the Defense and State Departments for more than 26 years, retiring as a brigadier general. He was the chief architect for the Trump Administration’s widely praised National Security Strategy (NSS), and the Senior Director for Strategy to the President at the National Security Council. Spalding is also the author of Stealth War: How China Took Over While America’s Elite Slept.
All opinion articles are the opinion of the author and not necessarily of American Military News. If you are interested in submitting an Op-Ed, please email [email protected].