NEWS AND ANALYSIS:
China’s military recently carried out a test of a bomb designed to destroy U.S. Navy bases and civilian ports.
The People’s Liberation Army Naval Research Academy set off the underwater explosion in simulating an attack at a Chinese naval port on a “hostile high-piled wharf,” the state-run Global Times reported Oct. 25.
“The underwater explosives were successfully detonated and fully demolished the wharf with a powerful explosion,” the report said. “The test gathered a large amount of data that can be used in future combat for attacking enemy ports, which can contribute to cutoff of enemy supply lines,” the story stated, quoting PLA experts.
The location of the test was not disclosed.
PLA Navy Capt. Zhao Pengduo, deputy director of the naval port demolition test program, told Chinese state television that naval bases and ports are “hubs” used for military logistics that supply munitions and fuel.
“If we can use stealthy ways, like underwater explosions to destroy the ports, we can kill off the enemy’s war potentials,” Capt. Zhao said.
The report said the U.S. Navy is dispersing its aircraft carriers and military bases near China to make it more difficult for Chinese attacks in a future conflict. The dispersal strategy, however, also makes supplying the forces more difficult and renders ports and naval bases important targets.
Russia has developed a similar port-killing drone submarine armed with a 100-megaton nuclear warhead capable of creating tsunamis that can destroy cities and ports.
China analysts suspect the PLA will conduct another port explosive test in an open-ocean base in the coming months.
The explosive test was not limited to destroying wharves and was more likely aimed at assisting Chinese targeting of ships in ports, and building warships to withstand similar attacks. Setting off an underwater explosion in an enclosed harbor also will assist in developing strikes capable of damaging multiple ships in port from a single blast by determining optimal aim points.
COVID-19 returns home to China
China’s government is grappling with a new outbreak of the COVID-19 virus that began in Wuhan three years ago. The latest infections have now reached 20 provinces, according to Chinese state media.
The Chinese government initiated a new, intrusive electronic surveillance system capable of monitoring the locations of citizens who have come in contact with COVID-infected people.
The state-run Beijing Evening News reported the new outbreaks began Oct. 17 in Shaanxi Province from a tourist group in Inner Mongolia. By Nov. 5, 20 provinces and regions were affected including Beijing, Qinghai, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Ningxa, Shandong, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Yunman, Guizhou, Sichuan, Chongqing, Jiangxi, Hunan, Hubei, Zhejiang, Liaoning, Henan and Shaanxi.
In Dalian, authorities also are using a talking robot on streets that says: “Please hold your health code and ID card. Let’s actively cooperate with the medical staff and quickly curb the epidemic together. Fighting!”
The outbreak has resulted in lockdowns of a city close to Beijing and the closure of supermarkets in some locations.
The official Xinhua outlet reported that in northern Heilongjiang Province, a government working group called the outbreaks “severe and complicated.”
Virus sequencing in China determined that multiple transmission chains are developing caused by variants different from those that first originated in Wuhan. The outbreak also highlights what analysts say is the relative ineffectiveness of Chinese-developed vaccines.
China has continued to stonewall the international community regarding its handling of the virus that began either in a Wuhan laboratory or as the result of a still-undetermined animal infecting humans and spreading globally around November 2019.
A recent U.S. intelligence report stated that China’s government is pushing a false narrative that the virus originated outside China.
“China’s government continues to spread allegations that the United States created or intentionally spread [the COVID virus] to divert attention away from Beijing,” the report said.
Chinese leaders insist the virus began in China on imported frozen food, something the intelligence report described as “an extremely unlikely theory.”
Officially, China’s government says the death toll from the pandemic has been less than 5,000 people. Unofficial U.S. estimates of the death toll in China due to the virus put the figure at more than 100,000 people.
The latest official figures in China say there have been 1,141 new cases as of early November.
Regarding the intrusive electronic surveillance, the state-run China Daily reported that new COVID-19 restrictions include a process that identifies “space-time contacts” in a bid to rapidly find people at risk of infection. In the southwestern city of Chengdu, some Chinese were notified by phone message as part of the new system that they had been close to someone infected with COVID-19.
Local health authorities define a “space-time contact” as someone who stayed in the same space as someone who was a COVID-19 patient. A space-time contact is defined as someone who was detected through cellphone surveillance as having spent over 10 minutes in an area 875 yards wide by 875 yards long with an infected person.
Once identified as a space-time contact, the health code identifier on a person’s phone changes from green to yellow, meaning they are no longer free to move in public and must take COVID-19 tests and self-quarantine until negative test results are obtained.
The new contact tracing is also being used in Beijing, and Henan and Fujian provinces. The intrusive measures come despite evidence that there is limited transmission of the virus in the open air.
To date tens of thousands of Chinese have been designated as “suspicious contacts” by the government, the Epoch Times reported. Analysts say there are concerns U.S. health authorities could follow the Chinese model and adopt similar draconian contact tracing methods in the United States.
Imprisoned Chinese citizen-journalist near death
The U.S. government is calling on China to release a citizen-journalist imprisoned for unofficial video recordings tracking the earliest days of the COVID-19 virus outbreak in Wuhan. Zhang Zhan, the journalist, was sentenced to four years in prison for reports Wuhan in late 2019.
Ms. Zhang is near death after going on a hunger strike, according to her family.
“We have repeatedly expressed our serious concerns about the arbitrary nature of her detention and her mistreatment during it. We reiterate our call to the PRC for her immediate and unconditional release,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Monday.
Mr. Price said releasing the dissident journalist is urgent as she is near death in a Chinese prison.
In December, the State Department called Ms. Zhang’s detention a “sham prosecution and conviction.”
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has shown once again it will do whatever it takes to silence those who question the party’s official line, even regarding crucial public health information,” the department said in a statement. “Lying is a feature, not a bug of authoritarian regimes.”
The statement said the Chinese Communist Party “restricted and manipulated information” about the virus and “brutally silenced other brave truth-tellers, such as Dr. Li Wenliang, Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin.”
“Because of the CCP’s gross malfeasance, the rest of the world relied heavily on uncensored reports from citizen journalists like Zhang to understand the true situation in Wuhan after the CCP-imposed strict media controls were enforced and a controllable outbreak turned into a deadly global pandemic.”
Ms. Zhang, a lawyer who became a human rights activist, was detained in May 2020 and later convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
Her alleged crime was posting more than 120 videos on YouTube revealing conditions in Wuhan during the virus crackdown in the city. The reports revealed Chinese government failures in stemming the outbreak.
A Chinese Embassy spokesman did not return an email seeking comment on Ms. Zhang’s case.
Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter @BillGertz.