The position of my blog has generally been oriented towards viewing Russia as a rogue and China as a peer – such that they respectively merit foreign relations approaches weighted towards war and diplomacy. Despite this, the informational evidence shows that the idea of an inevitable “Thucydides Trap” between China and the US has been exacerbated by Russian disinformation and active measures. Now it seems many very fine people on both sides are eating a similar tainted “Chinese meat” of disinformation sourced from Russian intelligence which will lead to Chinese-US hostility if carried to a logical conclusion.
To support this view (you’ll have to read the links), I’ve previously blogged that events like Tiananmen Square (arguably more in response to Gorbachev’s Glasnost than US Democracy), September 11 2001, and now the Covid-19 / Coronavirus point to Russia driving wedges which align with such a Thucydides Trap fomentation.
Falun Gong (also inspired by Nostradamus) is much like Aum Shinrikyo and other apocalyptic cult movements which have been compromised by Russia – as well as embodying the 21st century authoritarian propaganda model which seems to accompany The Epoch Times media format.
If one takes the view that Falun Gong and The Epoch Times are compromised by Russian information, then the use of epithets like “CCP Virus” or “Chinese [corona]virus” are like artifacts of the Russian propaganda ecosystem. Thus, I believe following the Falun Gong down the road to information war with China plays into the Russian hand. The use of such terms should be avoided because they are damaging to our shared diplomatic interests as well as potentially strategically beneficial to an adversary.
With that said, it seems to be clear that like Western politicians who use the term CCP Virus or align with Falun Gong, there are many in the Chinese government who would align with Russia more closely as well. It seems to me there is some prior collaboration over bitcoin between China and Russia, which I also don’t like.
Beyond this it seems that Russia and China may now be increasingly working together in the information space, with China adopting Russia’s disinformation tactics (as some authoritarian forces in the West have arguably also done in their adoption of The Epoch Times).
As an amateur disinformation researcher with a ‘theory’, my position which has focused on Russia has become less popular of late (if it ever was). It seems to be because there is a major push in the community to: 1.) align with the “CCP Virus” rhetoric around Covid-19, AND 2.) to note the sudden adoption of Russian disinformation tactics by China during Covid-19.
The case of the adoption of aggressive Russian tactics by the Chinese seems obvious, but I think the moral blindness in the case of the use of the term CCP Virus, etc. is dangerous in light of the similar profile of The Epoch Times to the authoritarian media regimes. This suddenly has made China the main target of disinformation research, somewhat taking the focus off of Russia in my opinion. It has also has had the effect of making “us” no better than “them”. I still think you can fight effectively with the truth.
As much as I might hope for diplomacy and friendship with China, it seems that at least in the narrative space, the strategic window for such an opportunity may be growing ever-narrower and may also represent naive optimism on my part.
The potential for hostility in Asia that leaves China and the US weakened and Russia strengthened to me seems a real possibility at least based on the historical themes of late-Soviet and onward disinformation. I don’t believe that my position is totally outlandish either, given the history of Russia playing both sides of similar crises in the historical cases of The Boxer Rebellion and World War II; and my observations about 9/11 disinformation and active measures for example, which came prior to these areas I learned about later.
So to the point of my blog, today – don’t buy this murderous “Chinese meat” of disinformation which is a fruit of the Chekists’ terror.
This was a term used by the Russian symbolist writer Dmitry Merezhkovsky. He is a figure I frequently come across in my writing and research.
As opposed to the figures I come across repeatedly whom I do not consistently identify with politically or philosophically, Merezhkovsky might be an exception. I don’t know a lot about him and haven’t read his books (just analyses of them) – so I would not go so far as to say I view him as a kindred spirit – but the kinds of symbolism he has explored in Russian politics seem to resonate with some of my independent findings in cultural interpretations of disinformation which echo with themes about Satan and the Antichrist.
In essence, the theme of his “Christ and Antichrist” series of books seems to be about the acting out of some kind of anti-Christian behavior which is linked to the cults of personality of Russian rulers and the messianic identity of the Russian people. Similarly, I view many pre and post-millennial prophecies of Nostradamus as being Russian disinformation driven by a Tsarist fascination with Antichrist.
(Edit: As another couple of key resources on this subject, see various essays on cultural semiotics by Soviet-era historian Boris Uspenskii / Uspensky such as these which touch on the dualistic portrayal of Tsars as both Christs and Antichrists; and also corroborated by histories of popular Russian mythologies about the Tsars such as this (see highlighted areas); or finally perhaps even the correspondence between Prince Andrey Kurbsky and Tsar Ivan the Terrible. The interesting thing is that despite Kurbsky’s association of Ivan IV’s terror with the power of the antichrist in violation of the godly role of Tsar – in the case of Peter the Great, Old Believers see him and subsequent Russian rulers as “antichrist”, but in the case of Ivan the Terrible, such Old Believers undoubtedly see Ivan IV as more a “christ”. In my opinion, based on the core use of this kind of metaphor to define popular responses to the reforms of Russian rulers – the question of whether Russian despotism is good or evil and whether someone’s view accords with their Eastern or Western geopolitical orientation is tied to this historical debate in the context of apocalyptic Christianity. Anyway, carry on with Merezhkovsky…)
In the tradition of Russian mysticism, Merezhkovsky seems to have seen himself as a prophet, but he hardly got the future always right with his predictions – or perhaps he got just what he wished for and regretted it. However, in any case Merezhkovsky does seem to have been a strong historian and highly-regarded as a contemporary cultural critic.
During a period of Russian mass starvation in 1919 following the rise of the Bolsheviks, Merezhkovsky wrote: “Russian Communists are not all of them villains. There are well-meaning, honest, crystal clear people among them. Saints, almost. These are the most horrible ones. These saints stink of the ‘Chinese meat’ most“.
The term “Chinese meat” was expressly related to the belief that the only explanation for veal being sold in markets during this time – when there were no slaughterhouses producing food – was that the protein was in fact, executed victims of the Cheka . The vendors for this product were often Chinese – leading to the use of the term “Chinese meat” since you could only buy this veal from them. While the story is allegorical, it is interesting that a strong comparison has been made of human flesh to that of veal in subsequent research.
The moral of the story is that people who use the term “CCP Virus” are like those who eat the “Chinese meat” – and those who sell the meat will be forever tainted by its stink. Consumers and purveyors of disinformation in the service of the Chekists’ terror have proven themselves both fools and murderers over Covid-19. (There is perhaps a second, more literal metaphor in the case of the Falun Gong claims of the Human Harvest.)
I don’t think I am naive to hope for healthy competition between China and the US which constrains Russian aggression; perhaps I just don’t think it is likely right now.