Forget the billions spent on China’s massive military build-up, the ongoing attempt to make the Chinese Communist Party the most powerful and feared force on the planet. The yellow peril is being decimated by tiny foes, one of them microscopic. All the chest-thumping and saber-rattling, and it finally comes down to a stand-off with a lowly bug that happens to hate communists. Boy, they didn’t see that coming!
African Swine Fever (ASF)
With a mortality rate near 100%, ASF has swept through China’s hog industry, decimating their primary source of protein. Best estimates put losses at 30-35% of China’s 700 million swine population, and it’s still spreading across China and into neighboring Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, and Mongolia.
As usual, Communist Party leaders deny there is an epidemic, but with a 35% reduction in protein available, and an even larger decimation possible in the future, the agriculture problem is serious—on its way to critical. This year China has already destroyed as many pigs as are raised annually in the United States.
So what? Eat beans!
Well, enter the second plague: meet the Fall Armyworm. It can travel over sixty miles in a day (300 in its lifetime) and lay over a thousand eggs before it dies. It has no natural enemies and is extremely expensive to eradicate, especially for a nation of poor farmers.
The Fall Armyworm has been responsible for devastating China’s other sources of protein (and income). Crops of soybeans, wheat, corn, and rice, among others have been destroyed by this malicious pest. With the huge protein losses due to the swine epidemic, these other crops were critical in making up the difference.
China had stopped importing bean crops from the US after the tariffs were imposed—something they may have to reconsider. The US and China were numbers one and two in corn exporting until the Fall Armyworm arrived, this misfortune for China could turn into a boon for US corn producers.
China is coming to the trade table with their hands out
The loss of export revenue brought about by the Fall Armyworm’s devastation couldn’t have come at a worse time for China, with President Trump’s hardline on trade, and tariff pressures. With China weakened by this twin assault on their agriculture industry, and with a faltering economy, we can expect that President Trump’s team will take full advantage as they hammer out a final trade agreement.
Any other president we’ve seen would have managed to turn this silk purse into a sow’s ear.
David Brockett is a Vietnam Veteran and former Marine aviator. He has worked in the field of mental health as a counselor and hospital administrator. After retirement, he volunteered with the US Forest Service as a wilderness ranger and horse packer. He writes fiction and historical fiction, as well as articles on politics, religion, gun-rights and current events. In his free time, he volunteers with veteran’s groups and community projects. He and his wife divide their time between their home state of Texas and Idaho.
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