Wednesday, 13 September 2023

Covid in the UK 2023

Anna Chen – 3 September 2023

COVID IN THE UK: Here’s the state of Covid in Britain as we head into winter with rising numbers of cases.

A new variant, Pirola AKA BA.2.86, we know little about. Is it dangerous? Meh, who knows, who cares?

No free testing. Buy your own, £2 a pop or £50 for PCR.

Vaccines for care homes and over-65s only. Is it the traditional vax being used? The dreaded big pharma MRNA? The media aren’t telling. The rest of us can’t even buy it for love nor money.

From today’s Guardian article: ‘It is not clear how prevalent Covid has become in the UK. Detailed tracking of the disease has been cut back. “In a sense that is a pity but, on the other hand, we need to be clear about our priorities”‘. Our lives not being one, apparently. Again, this plays down the pandemic, ignores Long Covid and the fact it shortens our lifespan. But, hey, as long as capitalism keeps rolling along on the cheap.

The damage to our immunity T-cells is another major feature. “… findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infection damages the CD8+ T cell response, an effect akin to that observed in earlier studies showing long-term damage to the immune system after infection with viruses such as hepatitis C or HIV.”

A reminder that vaccines were specifically never supposed to be a magic bullet. They were supposed to lessen the effects if you caught Covid, while we were eliminating the virus by quarantining, to protect us and to stop the NHS being overwhelmed. Now we have neither vaccines nor quarantine. I did say in March 2020 that it looked like Big Pharma interests were trying to create a Covid industry, facilitated by closing down months too late and opening too early just as we neared zero virus, keeping a reservoir of the virus in the community.

Contrast this with the roadmap drawn up for us by China when it eradicated the coronavirus by day 43 of its 76-day lockdown January 2020. A blizzard of China-hate by a compliant media diverted our attention and denied Brits this strategy while the virus seeded and spread. Three years later, the bombardments of variants we stewed up finally overwhelmed China’s defences they finally reopened in December last year.

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is RNA, not complete DNA, so it needs a host to survive and reproduce itself. Lockdown deprives the virus of hosts and starves it to extinction. Unless you sabotage the quarantine.

Why were we diverted by government advisers pushing “herd immunity”? This was effectively a mass murder policy; scientists knew one reason it was never going to work was that chickenpox and measles, for instance, mutate very slowly. SARS-CoV-2 mutates FAST.

Where are Boris Johnson’s What’s App messages covering this period & his closure of the UK pandemic team July 2019 and what do they say? Let’s hope the Covid Inquiry finds out.


Thursday, 24 August 2023

We’ll always have Beijing: How political necessity changes the cultural representation of Chinese


Hong Kong thespian and martial artist Bruce Lee. Image: YouTube

Anna Chen’s debut column for Asia Times, 14 August 2023

In the half-century since Bruce Lee’s early death in July 1973, the image of Chinese in western culture and business has come full circle with an added twist of spite. Prior to the martial arts deity’s explosion onto cinema screens in the 1960s, Chinese men were barely seen except as anonymous hordes reminiscent of the wave warfare that kept America at bay in Korea. Their ultimate sacrifice was presented in the west as an antlike lack of humanity rather than the collective courage we recognise from the allied storming of Normandy beaches.

Chinese characters who emerged from this primordial stew were instantly vilified as Yellow Peril, attributed with every hateful human trait. This malicious template returns periodically as Fu Manchu, Dr No, Emperor Ming the Merciless and other evil Chinese who step out of line. It was “balanced” by lovable creatures like Charlie Chan (played by Swedish actor Warner Oland in eye tape); The Pink Panther’s comical Kato (Burt Kwouk, an actual East Asian) as a sidekick even more useless than his boss Inspector Clouseau, the most useless man on the planet. And also another Kato, sidekick this time to The Green Hornet in the TV series, played by an underused Bruce Lee. So much for American original thought and innovation.

The cycle for Chinese cultural representation through the geopolitical eras goes something like this: Opium Wars – bad; gold mining in California – weak; building the Central Pacific Railroad Road for low wages – good; going on strike for better wages and conditions on the CPRR – bad!; 1870s economic downturn in the US – really bad; 1882 Exclusion Act – GTFOH!; Boxer Revolution to the Republic of China – Yellow Peril; War lord Thirties – well, ding, dong, Anna May Wong!; World War 2 – welcome, bro; 1949 – Wut?; Cold War Korea – here comes that ant wave; 1960s – the Blessed Bruce be upon us.

The swinging sixties was a great decade in which to be alive if you were a member of the post-war (preferably white) working and middle-class in America, Britain or parts of Western Europe. Not so great if you were living in China and trying to rebuild your wrecked country while staring down the barrel of foreign embargoes and a messy Cultural Revolution.

Bruce Lee was born and raised in San Francisco. He was beautiful and graceful with a body sculpted like Roman marble but most impressively, instead of submissiveness to the master race, he exuded pride in his Chinese origins. And, true to the cultural aspirations of the time, he stuck up for the little people rather than sticking it to them.

His divinity was felt keenly in the UK when his Hong Kong-made Kung Fu films came out in the 1970s, Enter the Dragon being their stunning apogee. Even my dad raised his head out of his books for long enough to praise this popular hero. For the first time, young males in the West wanted be like Lee, an Asian male, instead of wanting to kick him. Tough working-class lads of every hue sought out martial arts kwoons and dojos and stuck his posters on their walls. He was an inspiration to men of colour and they loved him for it.

If he hadn’t died on the cusp of the Nixon-Kissinger agreement with Mao that would propel China, ever so slowly, into a Golden Age, he’d probably have had his own movie empire on a par with Jackie Chan: JC to Lee’s John the Baptist.

In the glory years since China proved itself to be the rising superpower, Mandarin has been taught in schools and Beijing represented supreme cool. Ten Cent movies made mega bucks. Marvel gave us Shang-Chi, the first superhero movie to star an Asian lead, and TWO Asian main characters in the Agents of Shield TV series, played by Ming-Na Wen and Chloe Bennet. Benedict Wong and Gemma Chan escaped limited prospects in the UK and built solid careers in the Marvel universe and beyond, while Sandra Oh made the sole reverse journey across the Atlantic and busted out with Killing Eve. Michelle Yeoh was Everything, Everywhere All At Once from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to Star Trek. Asians were being normalised.

However, the screech of brakes and smell of burning rubber as the West performs a doughnut spin threatening to send positive images of Chinese crashing through the windscreen, means all change. How do you persuade the public that it’s okay to have a war with people they’ve been encouraged to identify with if you keep humanising them? Are buddy movies with Chinese as equal partners doomed to history before we’ve finished our popcorn? Is whitewashed Doctor Strange about to morph into Dr Strangelove or be eclipsed by Fu Manchu redux?

The tension between an industry making bank in the two leading economies and the demand by China hawks to slaughter the Golden Goose has to be resolved somehow.

A promiscuous use of backfiring tariffs and sanctions may provide the very catalyst that transforms the greenback signs in oligarchal eyes into yuan, as dumping the global reserve currency accelerates and everyone stampedes for the exit.

One advantage China will always have in this wholly unnecessary contest is the USA’s example of a modern Ozymandias: behold my works, ye mighty, and dedollarise. Never has America needed its original eastern hero as much as now to explain the art of the martial to politicians who keep pristine copies of Sun Tzu’s The Art Of War on display but never crack the spine. You’re supposed to use the weight of your opponent AGAINST him, grasshopper. And Be Like Water doesn’t mean running into the berg that sinks the USS Titanic just becuz we can.

In 2018, the International Monetary Fund’s Christine Lagarde side-eyed President Donald Trump’s imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods, loudly announcing that we were finally emerging from a Certain Someone’s Great Crash of 2008 with Another Certain Someone’s help.

Wall Street had a conniption. Gary Cohn, Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor, fumed, “Peter Navarro ratfucked us into a trade war with China by taking advantage of Trump’s very small brain.”

We watched aghast as, in the words of the British PM whose backbone hadn’t yet crumbled, Trump “let all the air out of the tyres of the global economy”. (Including, presumably, Boris Johnson’s own family’s investments. We sincerely hope he was personally reimbursed after ripping out our Huawei 5G infrastructure at the behest of the First Certain Someone with maybe a loan or sumthin’.)

And now President Joe Biden triples down on the madness.

Ironic that the Kung Fu concept of your own actions rebounding and hurting you when you point a loaded finger and find three fingers pointing back, has taken place in real time in front of our eyes. Every poisonous character assassination, every fusillade of hurt ends up damaging the perp as the target slips further out of reach.

My blu-ray of The Great Wall, perhaps the last of the Hollywood/China blockbuster lash-ups, arrived in 2018, two years after its 2016 release. Tainted by all the ensuing unpleasantness, it sits forlornly on a shelf, still in its shrink wrapper.

I may never find out how Matt Damon saved Chinese civilisation. But we’ll always have Beijing.

We'll always have Paris

US Asian youth bears brunt of anti-China drive

The Conversation:  Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows suicide is the first leading cause of death among Asian American young adults age 15-24

First published 3 August 2023

The anti-China pogrom is having the required effect in the United States, providing a dumping ground for an imploding society’s fears in the form of its Asian children. The feral elite can guage its success in turning its successful rival into a diversion and scapegoat for its own failings by the high number of suicides of Asian kids who are the canaries down the mine and currently bearing the brunt of American aggression.

The US was never going to allow China to develop and overtake it, choosing destruction over cooperation and mutual benefit. When the ruling class has sucked dry its own people, hollowing out the working and middle-classes until the top 1 percent owns as much as the bottom 90 percent, you know they’re not going to slow down their predations for 1.4 billion human beings across the other side of the world.

President Joe “not on my watch” Biden doubled down on Donald Trump’s multi-fronted attack on the rising economic superpower, chucking hundreds of billions of dollars at its military industry and budgeting over $500 million a year for a character assassination campaign, which has been eagerly taken up by its morally bankrupt adherents. From academia to media commentators and bent politicians, the whole of the US has been turned into a playground for bullies in a complete meltdown, trailed by the UK and other vassal states.

Meanwhile, the media keep us mute and invisible, denying a voice to those who would speak for themselves and mount a case for the defence. Any evidence-based debate is suppressed, the target group is dehumanised and thrust into the shadows.

Instead of challenging age-old anti-Asian bias, purported pro-China social media have done the same and created an apartheid industry for themselves. The lack of solidarity keeps the vacuum going where the sleep of reason produces monsters. We continue to be a blank canvas onto which any old phantasms can be projected, providing catharsis for exploited boneheads and a career for gatekeeping “rescuers” who have now become part of the problem.

Asian kids have a higher calling right now and will need every ounce of inner strength. All power and love to you.

“Whatever current western propaganda demands you believe, we are capable of altruism, fellow feeling, critical thinking and original thought. Of course we are. We’re human.”


The Conversation: Asian American young adults are the only racial group with suicide as their leading cause of death, so why is no one talking about this?

What you can do to fight violence and racism against Asian Americans: Although this PBS piece aims to help specifically in America, there are principles that apply everywhere that US anti-China hysteria is having an effect. In Britain there has been no action and little comment by anti-racism groups on the growing anti-Chinese pogrom.

The Monitoring Group: The only anti-racism group I can find in Britain that has stood with east Asians.

Sinophobia: How racism has its roots in politics. In an effort to “contain” China’s rise, the US is using every dirty trick it can muster to retain its status as sole hegemon, promoting hate at macro and micro levels.

Yellowface: How east Asians are almost completely erased from the culture.

Monday, 31 July 2023

Julian Assange’s Prometheus pecked at by US eagle

There’s something monumental and mythical about the Promethean figure of Julian Assange having his liver pecked out every day by the US eagle for taking information from the self-styled gods and giving it to us humans.

In Graeco-Roman mythology, Prometheus was the Titan who stole fire from the gods of Mount Olympus and passed it on to humanity, thereby earning their everlasting wrath. Zeus punished him by chaining him to a rock to have his liver pecked out each day by an eagle. To prolong the agony, the live grew back every night so his punishment could start all over again the next day.

It was the mark of small-minded vengeful deities given to spite, not the magnanimous forgiveness of the New Testament Bible, the purported bedrock of the One Nation Under God.

Without Assange & Chelsea Manning (now released), we’d never have known about the US killings of the Reuters journalists and their associates in Iraq. We would never have learnt there was no massacre in Tiananmen Square. Or a slew of more of the kind of information journalists are supposed to expose.

Australia now fails to defend its own citizen, who’d broken no Oz laws nor threatened its democracy. (Assange actually held back information that risked lives.) It has humiliatingly buckled under Blinken’s renewed persecution of his helpless quarry in this vicious fox-hunt: the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.

A democracy can only exist if its populace is given accurate information with which to make informed choices at the ballot box. This clearly isn’t happening. Instead, the people trying to keep us informed are threatened with death by the state or actually killed. Blinken’s snub to Australia’s subdued pleas for an end to Assange’s prosecution exposes the unequal relationship between the US and its vassal states.

Australia’s once-excellent trading relationship with China is in tatters, while the US scoops up the lost deals. It’s been dragged into America’s jealous war with an upcoming rival at enormous cost and jeopardy. And now it can’t even defend its own.

If the UK is Airstrip One, what does that make Australia?

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

The Taiping Rebellion: What the British Museum's Hidden Century exhibition leaves out

British Museum: Complete Map of All Under Heaven Unified by the Great Qing, China

What the Guardian's review of the British Museum's Hidden Century exhibition doesn't tell you about the Taiping Rebellion

The Guardian's review of the British Museum's Hidden Century exhibition continues the 19th-century mindset rationalising British imperialism in China past and present while omitting the driving force behind the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864).

Hong Xiuquan's Taiping Rebellion was a popular effort by millions of suffering Chinese to rid themselves of a decaying Qing government during Britain's brutal Opium Wars (1839-1842 and 1856-1860) and create a fair new society for the masses out of the wreckage.

Hong can be can be seen as China's first communist. Initially inspired by the teachings of Christ, he rejected the ossifying strictures of Confucianism and instead sought the abolition of landlordism, the redistribution of wealth for all, and the prohibition of prostitution, bound feet and the smoking of opium, transforming society into Hong's vision of a 'Heavenly Kingdom'.

This movement was opposed not only by the Qing dynasty it sought to depose, but also by the British whose interests were best served by the corrupt royal court even though they were at war with each other. As with today, the West would rather destroy social progress in China than see its people flourish.

The British had become massive consumers of the tea, silks, spices and porcelain sent to the great ports of Liverpool, Cardiff and Tlbury. Running out of gold bullion to pay for their chinoiserie, British merchants, protected by the armed forces, turned narco-capitalist and launched the Opium Wars in 1839. China was forced  — literally at gunpoint — to import cheap mass-produced industrial quantities of opium grown in Bengal to pay for the trade.

Not content with transforming what had been an aristocratic vice into a nationwide addiction, the British army joined forces with the Qing government to crush the popular Taiping movement and ensure their dominance could continue unhindered. Anti-Hong forces were trained and led by American businessman Frederick Townsend Ward, and later by the British officer Charles George Gordon. They finally defeated Hong at his last hold-out in Nanjing in 1864. 20 to 30 million died, along with his dream of a revivified society — the Heavenly Kingdom.

At the end of the first Opium War in 1842, the Nanjing Treaty, the first of the unfair 'unequal' treaties imposed on China, ceded Hong Kong to Britain. Others would create five ports — Canton (Guangzhou), Amoy (Xiamen), Foochow (Fuzhou), Ningpo (Ningbo), and Shanghai — and divide the spoils among British, French, American, German and Japanese concessions.

The British East India Trading Company's army-backed predations had been joined by the French. In 1860, British and French troops had already looted and burnt down the Summer Palace.

The Boxer Rebellion, a renewed wave of Chinese resistance to foreign occupation at the end of the 19th century, was also met with military might in the Eight Nation Alliance — Britain, the US, Germany, France, Russia, Japan, Italy and Austria-Hungary — which ganged up to crush the Boxers and enforce the continued pillage of China.

Today, the current US-led assault on China has AUKUS and the G7 countries taking shape in yet another alliance to "contain" (read: '"carve up") the new superpower just as it gets back onto its feet.

The Taiping Rebellion and other attempts by the Chinese to give birth to themselves as a stable, developed, thriving nation have always been met with dehumanisation, character assassination and violence. Chinese people have the same potential for raised consciousness, and a willingness to fight for a better way to be, as any other oppressed group anywhere else in the world. We know of Spartacus and the slaves, peasants in the 17th century English revolution and Civil War, Quaker pacifists. You see these sparks and shifts of consciousness throughout history. Yet Chinese people's desire to take the same road to liberation is trashed unless it is a mirage whipped up to serve colonialists who won't leave them in peace.

Unfortunately, the Taiping rebellion was crushed by a combination of backward forces, including the rapacious British Empire whose self-justification and twisted narratives continue to this day.

We're currently seeing a repeat of the same lash-up of imperialist forces to suppress by all means the rising superpower that hasn't had a war in 40 years, all aided by Biden's huge anti-China propaganda budget of more than $500 million a year ($800m a year total) on top of vastly increased war machine funding of $1 Trillion for 2024.

Watch this space.

The British Museum Hidden Century exhibition 18 May 2023 - 8 October 2023

James on Twitter just sent me this fascinating story about my family namesake.

One of the Taiping rebels, a man named Ah Chen, escaped from China in the face of massive man-hunt of the rebel remnants. He became an indentured labourer in the West Indies, eventually landed in Trinidad, and married a local girl.
They had six children. The eldest, Eugene became Trinidad’s first Chinese lawyer, and a very successful one at that. He married Alphonsine A Gantheaume, a local beauty whose family was wealthy.
Eugene heard about Sun Yatsen, and moved his family to London to see if Sun needed his help. Eugene helped Sun in many ways, putting out newspapers, unravelling the dense legalese at the Paris Conference of 1920.
Alphonsine died very young in the 1920s.
He and other revolutionaries, eg Sun’s widow, Mme Song Qingling, considered themselves the true vanguard of Sun’s San Min Chu Yi. And they abhorred Chiang’g betrayal of Sun’s legacy. Both went to Russia to escape the 1927 Nationalist Revolution.
Eugene did not leave China when Japan invaded. When Japan couldn’t persuade him to endorse the puppet Nanking government, he was was executed in 1944.
His son, Jack, who spent his youth in Trinidad and came to China at age 17, didn’t speak Chinese. Jack married former Red Guard, Yuan-Tsung, who helped to translate for Jack when under interrogation during the Cultural Revolution.
I read Yuan-Tsung Chen’s book: Return to the Middle Kingdom, published in 2008, by Union Square Press. The author went to teach at Cornell in 1972. Her book gives a timeline on the Chen’s family, beginning with Joseph Chen (Ah Chen’s Christian name), including the spouses, the children, and the in-laws.

Thursday, 11 May 2023

When Jerry met Anna: Online conversation with China commentator Jerry Grey and guest Anna Chen

Last Sunday, I was an online guest of Jerry Grey, the British-born China commentator who caught our attention with accounts of his marathon bicycle trips around China, including Xinjiang, China's Belt And Road back door which leads across the Eurasian continent as far as Barking in the far east ... of London.

Along with a growing band of Westerners on the ground, Jerry has posted eye-witness evidence countering the wave of US and western propaganda centring not only on this key region coveted by the West, but also a buckshot of deranged claims fired off ever since America's Tonya Harding syndrome kicked off in earnest under former President Donald Trump.

Once Trump's trade war (launched 2018) failed to bring China to heel, the race was on to "contain" China with a crashing reversal of the good relations that brought mass produced affordable goods to the West ever since the Nixon/Kissinger initiative in the 1970s.

Cheap labour in the world's factory enabled American consumers to live beyond their means, disguising Reagan's and subsequent administrations' transferral of huge wealth from poor to rich in the form of tax cuts that have hollowed out the working- and middle-classes until the top 0.1 percent own as much as the bottom 90 percent of the US.

China's fortunes, however, are on the rise. Although per capita income is still only a quarter of America's, China is catching up. It has already lifted 850 million people out of absolute poverty thereby creating a middle-class nearly twice the size of the US population, a middle-class that consumes large amounts of western goods. Contentment with the government is up, according to Harvard research, with 95 percent of polls expressing satisfaction with the governing CPC (Communist Party of China).

The two superpowers will soon cross over as America's mismanagement becomes increasingly apparent. The ruling elite of the richest nation on Earth can't rein themselves in and halt their grand larceny against their own people. They could stop the rot and pour money into much-needed infrastructure, healthcare and education, instead preferring to extract maximum profits for the Military Industrial Complex and fossil fuel companies. They could work with China to bring peace and prosperity to all, but America is blinded by the guilt of its own sins and its rulers can only project their monstrous drives and appetites onto anyone who challenges their supremacy.

American society screams in pain, having been turned into rats in a sack, killing each other and plunging into poverty without hope. Tent cities multiply. Two or more jobs are needed just to keep steady. Most can't find $400 for an emergency. Brutality and killing by cop has been normalised.

The last thing the larcenous elite want is for the American people to look with clear eyes at the rising superpower that has flourished without a war in four decades. It does not want China standing as a model for how human society can thrive, so it throws obscene amounts of funds into twisting the public's perceptions to monster our global lifeboat: over $500 MILLION on anti-China propaganda in one year alone.

The US is dragging us all into a devastating world war to protect the tiny number of oligarchs at the top. They couldn't care less about their own population. Obviously. If anything, the eugenecists among them believe there are too many people populating the planet and that means the masses on their own turf as well as elsewhere.

Only five years ago, the global economy was crawling out of the US's Great Crash of 2008 in sync and with increasing stability under the shock absorber effects of a rising China. The time-warped American state has taken it upon itself to trash that hope as it prepares to do to the world what European invaders did to the native Americans. Similarly grabbing at Empire delusions, some elements in the UK are engaged in a 19th century cosplay thinking they'll replay Britannia not realising that its history is repeating itself in the western axis as simultaneous tragedy and farce.

Jerry Grey on Twitter: Jerry's China
and Jerry's Take on China
YouTube: Jerry's Take on China

Thursday, 4 May 2023

A poem for the monarchy revisited on the Coronation of King Charles III: Eating Placenta — Lines on the Royal Birth

A poem fit for a king. Eating Placenta — Lines on the Royal Birth

Anna Chen reads Eating Placenta: Lines on the Royal Birth

Call me a coronation chicken but I'm sorely tempted to duck out of the Big Event this Saturday. I'm only one of a vast swathe of increasingly disenfranchised, pauperised Brits who can't bear to see wealth and privilege based on accidents of birth lionised as if we weren't all sliding ever deeper into the abyss.

Great Britain was once the biggest empire the world has ever seen, owning 26 percent of the planet only a century ago. Today, we're down to the AUKUS* countries which happen to have been given a last-gasp unifying project by the former colonies across the Atlantic: Opium Wars II with World War III waiting in the wings.

Like Nero partying while his city burned, the establishment cavorts in the frothing delusion that this is fine, secure in the belief that it's only a matter of military might before the white nations are restored to their rightful place as last men and women standing in the rubble of our beautiful blue planet. Meanwhile, they seriously expect us to pledge allegiance to some fairly inadequate human beings.

Look up, dinosaurs, that's an asteroid headed your way, not a revived empire.

The monarchy should have ended with Liz 2 instead of dragging us forward to mediaeval times. They had a good, long innings but that was it.

I'm not a poet laureate so I don't have to write anything for the occasion but, to mark the Coronation of King Charles III, here's one I made earlier, written in 2013. It's how I imagine the real celebrations going on behind the scenes once the hoi polloi are put to sleep.

* AUKUS: Australia, United Kingdom, US with Canada and New Zealand completing the pentacle states.

Eating Placenta is from Anna Chen's second collection of poetry, Chi Chi's Glorious Swansong, published by Aaaargh! Press.

Monday, 13 February 2023

Stopping the Iraq War 2001-3 20th anniversary: How the press was done

Stopping the Iraq War 2001-3, from race war to 9/11: How the press was done

by Anna Chen
13 February 2023

Wednesday 15 February marks the 20th anniversary of the unprecedented million-strong anti-Iraq War demonstration in London. 

2001 was a busy year for presswork even before the September 11 attacks in the USA.

In March, we had woken up to lurid headlines splashed across the media accusing UK Chinese of starting the previous year’s Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak which had brought the British countryside to its knees, and which Prime Minister Tony Blair was still failing to bring under control.

With farmers committing suicide as their businesses went up in flames along with the pyres of dead livestock, Blair had no solution to offer other than the incineration of animals, infected or not.

And then out of the blue, every front page and broadcast news bulletin suddenly accused UK Chinese of being the cause.

This was so absurd for anyone brought up on World War 2 history and schooled in how Goebbels had scapegoated Jews by associating them with filth and pestilence, that it was difficult to take seriously at first.

Valerie Elliot of The Times had been briefed by the Northumberland branch of the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) that the outbreak had started in pigswill collected from food outlets including a Chinese restaurant. Without any scientific evidence whatever, the press had taken the heat off the embattled PM by accusing a minority group of a national crime. It felt so mediaeval.

There followed much speculation about Mr Big criminals smuggling bush meat and antelope hooves into the country. Unable to picture herds of wildebeest galloping across the Chinese serengetti, amusement turned to horror. It didn’t matter that Britain was enjoying cheap food and Chinese fooderies get their meat from the butchers, same as everyone else. It was an image tapping into decades of invisibility and Yellow Peril stereotypes, confirming us as a permanent reservoir of scapegoats.

One friend told me it looked like we were being set up for a pogrom.

The Chinese catering industry took a huge economic hit. Abuse of Chinese takeaway workers in remote areas had begun. Someone was going to end up getting hurt.

UK Chinese across the political spectrum joined forces to present our case. I ran the press campaign and, after the business community lobbied Downing Street, we formed a delegation to meet the MAFF minister, Nick Brown, who reiterated his anti-racist credentials and denied that his office had made the allegation.

The Chinese made history when, for the first time this model minority protested on Sunday 8 April in London’s Soho and brought Chinatown to a halt. We marched to MAFF HQ where Minister Nick Brown came out and vindicated us in front of the international media.

Relieved that we’d headed off disaster, I was able to concentrate on the next press campaign: the Socialist Alliance’s run in the summer’s General Election.

* * * *

After three years of New Labour’s betrayals of their own constituents, a danger grew that the electorate would grow so disappointed in Blair’s rightward drift that they would abandon Labour for the Far Right. The aim of the Socialist Alliance, comprising groups and independents from the British Left, was to give voters a left alternative to Labour.

As the new kids on the block, we made a positive splash in the media, fielding 98 candidates including investigative journalist Paul Foot, who didn’t win but kept his deposit. The SA was described as "fresh and exciting" by John O'Farrell in the Guardian. "Easily the best performance for the left in post-war Britain," John Curtice told The Independent.

Mike Marqusee said I’d done the equivalent work of the six press officers who’d publicised the Countryside Alliance with a similar size operation and a proper budget.

These two successful press campaigns within a few months had given me extensive experience with a steep learning curve, but I was eager to return to my writing and performance work.

Strange how the universe trashes your most finely-tuned plans.

So, by the time we watched two airliners smash into the World Trade Centre on 11 September, I was as ready for the challenge as I could ever be.

* * * * *

President George W Bush instantly vowed to punish those responsible for the attacks which many read as a declaration of war. On whom, we didn’t yet know but Iraq was rapidly slipped in to replace Afghanistan as number one patsy.

Stop The War (STW) revived itself for the first time since Yugoslavia was dismembered by NATO, scheduling its first anti-Iraq War meeting for 21 September at Friends Meeting House opposite London’s Euston Station. With Mike Marqusee writing most of our bulletins, I issued the first of our blizzard of press releases under the Media Workers Against The War banner for STW three days before on the 18th. I had my usual media list plus 98 Socialist Alliance candidates and their branches from the summer’s General Election out of which to build a spine of resistance.

The hall was packed out. Speakers, including Bruce Kent, George Monbiot, and Jeremy Corbyn MP, “decried both the horror of the attacks on the USA and the horror of the attacks now being prepared by the USA and its allies against people in south west Asia”.

A day later on the 22nd, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmamant (CND) held a vigil at Downing Street attended by 5,000 people.

The British public were appalled by the prospect of an all-out war with Afghanistan and, even more absurdly, Iraq. Meetings were springing up as they poured into a rapidly coalescing anti-war movement.

At the Media Workers Against The War’s founding meeting on the 23rd, John Pilger, Paul Foot, Tariq Ali and a range of left figures argued for action and issued a statement.

The following week on 26 September, STW formally launched itself as the Stop the War Coalition (STWC), later becoming a three-way partnership with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB).

The left were expert at holding rallies and demonstrations, but often with little to show for it beyond a nice day out. This time, to prevent our activities disappearing as yet another walk in the park, we needed a coordinated press campaign, otherwise we’d be preaching to the choir.

With an expanding anti-war campaign, I expected to be working alongside other press officers, in particular veterans from CND. Instead, my emails went unanswered and all attempts to speak to them failed. CND went AWOL. On 27 October, I emailed the STWC convenor asking for back-up to help me with the media work but answer there came none. This left me doing all the national presswork on my own while Marqusee continued to write the STWC releases.

I continued to publicise the plethora of activities springing up from a galvanised base such as anti-war pickets at the BBC, a MWAW newsletter, coalition benefits featuring plays by Caryl Churchill and Tony Kushner, while encouraging rapid rebuttal activity, building fact files and in constant phone communication with news editors.

It was all hands on deck and, once STWC provided a focal point, everyone joined in. I scored a victory when, after years of under-reporting protest attendance numbers and ignoring our complaints, the BBC’s Head of News Richard Sambrook finally wrote to me admitting as much: “The relevant pages on BBC News Online were also updated. I accept we ought to have known your higher figure a little earlier.”

Unfortunately, the STW barely tolerated my presswork with many of them telling me not to do it because “it’s the bourgeois press, they ignore us and we don’t engage with them”. This was difficult to understand as my presswork was propelling the STWC convenor, Jeremy Corbyn MP and the burgeoning anti-war movement out of the shadows and into the public eye.

However, over the next two years, I worked from home, publicising our activities which included a series of show-stopping anti-Iraq War demonstrations in London. Each protest was bigger than the last with an estimated 50-100 thousand in attendance, exposing BBC reports of 10-15,000 as absurd. On one demo, I stood outside the National Gallery and watched Trafalgar Square filled to bursting while the march was still coming down Haymarket with no end in sight.

Eventually, once something was up for grabs, STWC got some sort of press action running but which Andrew Burgin, latterly a press officer, confessed wasn’t up to scratch: “We badly need good press officers,” he told me the weekend prior to the Mother Of All Demos.

This was on the “Football Match for Peace”, a local event which the Islington organisers had asked me to publicise and which I managed to turn into an international news warm-up for the Big Day. Tony Blair’s sister-in-law Lauren Booth cheered us up with her presence. Bianca Jagger kicked off the match between Americans Against the War (AAW) and a team of Iraqi students. And Andrew Murray gave a speech.

Everyone seemed delighted.

But no good deed goes unpunished.

The following weekend, on Saturday 15 February 2003, I found myself banned from the climactic march and rally by a sectarian leadership and stymied by a rising anti-east Asian bias. I confined myself to getting an ITN news crew to follow and film Bianca Jagger and the AAW’s Gabriel Furshong at the demo.

From across the nation, the huge numbers marching to the Hyde Park rally were breathtaking — over a million and quite possibly getting on for a million and a half. The biggest protest in the UK had been built by the rank and file and all without corporate money. My mood was only knocked when LibDem leader Charles Kennedy stated from the platform that he’d be supporting our boys once the war started.

There was one more key date to deal with: the actual Parliamentary vote on 18 March. Surely we’d have a reasonable turnout in Westminster to remind the Labour MPs who’d promised to vote against Blair’s war that their’s would be the people’s choice.

It was disappointing to see STWC demobilise for this crucial date. Cui bono?

Tony Blair won the war vote and, two years and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens’ lives later, Bush declared his Shock and Awe victory in 2005. Standing in the rubble of Iraq, Dubbya came out with what initially sounded like a non-sequitur: he designated China to be a strategic competitor.

How was this possible? In 2005 China was still a relatively poor country with its workers slaving away in suicide factories making our goods. Having been all but destroyed when Britain forced industrial mass produced opium on China at gunpoint in the 19th century Opium Wars, and during imperial Japan’s savage occupation and the West’s Korean war, why was America intent on waging another war, this time on the most populous country in the world just as it was getting up off its knees?

It was at this point that I saw a long line of boxes being ticked off, beginning with Yugoslavia via Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and ending with Russia and China.

And then I learnt that Bush Junior had first targeted China years earlier in his 2000 election campaign, calling China a strategic competitor.

So, only months before Tony Blair’s administration had deflected hate, horror and disgust onto British Chinese who’d never done him any harm, we were already in the cross-hairs. Blair had thrown us under a bus to take the heat off himself and prove his loyalty to the new Rome. He would end up being tipped around £2 million a year by JP Morgan which had been granted pole position as the bank coordinating the extraction of wealth from a ravaged Iraq.

Which brings us full circle to the USA’s current go-for-broke policy as the supposedly abandoned Project for the New American Century goes nuclear and the UK, the second biggest force in NATO, nails us to the USS Titanic.

Thinking back to the confidence on display in the early days of the anti-war movement in 2001-2003, I’ve been wondering why there has been so little push-back from the British Left since then over Libya, Syria and Ukraine and while vicious Yellow Peril narratives set like concrete.

Our current rush to war with the rising superpower, losing us our cheap energy, mass produced goods and food, has gone largely unopposed. Where has the peace movement been in the past few years? Facing nuclear oblivion, the left has only just started to hold peace demonstrations and rallies, but virtually nothing about China.

Let's hope those accusations against the Chinese during the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak of 2000-2001 weren't a practise run for the Mother of All Dodgy Dossiers and World War III.


Shakedown: America's 21st Century War on China More than 20 years of keeping tabs on the incessant crawl of US imperialism since George W Bush declared China to be a strategic competitor in 2000.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

China's new Covid measures for 2023 and the West's response

Happy new year to one and all.

A welcome mild spell of weather in the UK takes some of the pressure off us from spiking energy prices under the new world order's decoupling from China, our global lifeboat and factory. Every country that refuses to come to heel in the Rules-based order that has quietly replaced the Rule of International Law is now target for the declining US, riven as it is by a looming recession deflating the Mother of all Market Bubbles, an incipient civil war between two equally unpleasant opposing factions of north America's ruling class, and Covid rendered endemic in pursuit of the rising rival.

The USA's promiscuous use of sanctions on anyone who even looks at them funny has accelerated the drive to find a multipolar solution to the declining hegemon's incessant wars and exploitation. Africa shudders as it realises it's next on the menu. Latin America has been around this block many times. The BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa with more than a dozen others queuing up to join) realise they're in a race against time as the West dons its 19th century Empire drag in the absence of anything positive left to offer.

In December, under some of the most aggressive propaganda attacks ever fielded by the West, China finally decided to make a break for safety, taking advantage of the milder Omicron variant. The media's screeching about "inhumane" lockdowns under the Zero Covid policy immediately turned on a dime to howls of rage that China dropped Zero Covid. Such doublethink barely masks the absurdity of complaining that China may end up giving us back the variants we'd been stewing up and sending there over the past three years.

As China downgrades Covid to a Class B infectious disease, the Guardian (among others) kicks off the year with yet more hysterical demonisation of China — "China is now the centre of Covid: the world should be watching and testing"  — by a professor, no less, who's missed the part where the US and UK stopped testing for and counting their own Covid ages ago. I wote the following comment.

Who does the Guardian deflect onto as "unreliable" and not transparent?

From the start, China's Covid eradication roadmap, achieving Zero Covid by day 43 of their 76-day lockdown Jan-Apr 2020, was aggressively sidelined by the mainstream media. The Guardian even front-ran the Republican Senate's 57 page memo (April 2020) instructing politicians and media to "blame China", the effects of which have been felt ever since at the expense of public health.

The people of China held out for three years while Trump delayed, called the pandemic a hoax, stigmatised masks, held superspreader rallies, undermined the science and allowed Covid to seed in the population. Johnson mirrored Trump, matching more than a million US deaths with 200,000 of our own.

Thankfully, there weren't the same ruthless geopolitical objectives when we worked together to eliminate smallpox, polio and other killers or we'd have been truly stuffed decades ago. We aren't testing or counting — who is it who's not transparent?

China's now having to run through the fire as our variants overwhelm their efforts to much gleeful spite from the West. In true Orwellian fashion, war is peace, freedom is slavery and we now claim our huge, unnecessary death toll, the battle with Long Covid and damage to the NHS for privatisation as a success.

It's not just Covid that alarms. It's the gradual but relentless nailing into place of a narrative that serves our feral, under-taxed elite now straining for a war on our global lifeboat.
Kneejerk responses regurgitate the suppression of whistleblowers who, its turns out, were not whistleblowers after all, as I and others have repeatedly pointed out:
The media preferred to turn the late opthalmologist Dr Li into a martyr as proof of a cover-up despite his WeChat message wrongly identifying SARS going "viral" in an email and threatening panicked flight of a possibly infected public after Dr Zhang had already reported her grim discovery. Dr Li's message was to a small WeChat group, a member of which shared it against his specific request. The World Health Organisation, US CDC and press including Reuters knew of the novel coronavirus by 31st December. Dr Li wasn't arrested as claimed, but was heavy-handedly reprimanded by police on 3rd January — after work had begun on the virus and news was out — and told to sign a document pledging he wouldn't do it again. Tragically, he would become an early victim of the virus, catching it from a patient and dying on 7th February.

Americans would find suppression of critical medical information nearer home in Seattle where Dr Helen Chu found early Covid-19 cases from as far back as January 2020 — "It's just everywhere already"— but was told to shut up and stop testing. Or watch the CDC's director Robert Redfield finally testifying to Congressman Harley Rouda in March that they had been wrongly diagnosing Covid-19 deaths as flu.
Covid's presence in the US and Europe predate Wuhan (see US Red Cross blood samples taken December 2019-January 2020 indicating first infections from at least August 2019). The CDC admits misdiagnosing early Covid deaths as flu. The US briefed NATO and Israel but NOT China in November 2019 about the coming pandemic in Wuhan. Chinese inactivated vaccines are as effective as western active mRNA after three doses and with lower side effects. 90% of China's population is fully vaccinated, with the elderly lagging at 86%.

We now await the onslaught of Kraken, the virulent XBB.1.5 variant that's been cooking up in the US but, hey, let's blame China.

FURTHER READING: 'Let's Blame China": an infantile disorder when Covid-19 comes knocking 23rd June 2020. How the White House turned "China bought us time" into "China lied, people died" and put the world at risk.