China has a direct and very deep relationship with all types of viruses, including Coronavirus of 2019. The Chinese government has intentionally involved its population into wildlife farming despite the danger of such deadly viral breakouts. The government saw the huge monetary profits in the wildlife farming industry and then decided to support it through the wet markets. With the help and aid of the Chinese government, the legal and illegal wildlife farming industry boomed. And in return, they gave the unavoidable gift of unknown virus-based diseases to the world. Within the last 2 decades, humanity has suffered a lot and lost lots of lives, because of China.
I’ve done some research on how all this started. And I think that everybody should know this and oppose the wildlife farming supported by the Chinese government. Have a look.
It was New Year’s Eve 2019 when Chinese health officials revealed their dilemma. In Central China, there was a mutiny of a new type of viral pneumonia and it was spreading wild. Before pneumonia, people were undergoing severe dry cough and high fever. And, for some, it became deadly. Doctors called this disease COVID-19 or CoronaVirus Disease 2019.
When they tried to investigate its origin, they found a corresponding resource, the food market in Wuhan, China. It was validated that 27 out of the first 47 patients had been here. It wasn’t conclusive evidence of the beginning of the coronavirus spreading, but after knowing this, the Chinese government quickly sealed down the market. They had encountered this before, in a similar location, Guangzhou Market.
SARS – 2002-2003 – Southern China (Mainland China)
The health officials were trying to get a grip on an alarming outbreak of the disease SARS. This coronavirus originated in Main Land China and spread across the country. This disease was been festering for months in southern China. It eventually reached 29 countries and killed nearly 800 people.
Now, after 18 years of the attack of that deadly virus, this new Coronavirus outbreak happened in December 2019, has infected at least 198 countries, infected over 856,917 and has already killed over 42,107 people.
So, what do these markets have specifically to do with the coronavirus outbreaks and why does it keep appearing in China?
Most of the viruses that make us sick, actually originate in animals. Some of the viruses that cause:
- Avian Influenza comes from the Birds.
- Swine Influenza comes from the Pigs.
- HIV AIDS comes from the Chimpanzees.
- The dangerous EBOLA virus possibly originates in Bats.
- And in the matter of 2019 Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), there is some confirmation, it progressed from a Bat to a Pangolin, before infecting a Human Being.
Though viruses are very good at shifting among different species, it is rare for a fatal one to make this journey all the way to humans. That’s because it would require all these hosts to meet each other at some location. That’s where the Wuhan Market comes in. It is a wet market, a sort of place where alive animals are killed and traded for eating.
The Experts Said About Coronavirus & Animal Trading in China
“It was not at all a surprise to many scientists. They stack the cages one above another. Animals at the base are often soaked with all kinds of fluid. Animal excrement, pus, blood or whatever the fluid they are receiving from the animal above them. That is how a virus can jump from one animal to the other.”
Now, if a human comes in the touch with or eats that animal, the virus could possibly infect them too. And if the virus then spread through humans, it causes an outbreak. There are numbers of wet markets scattered globally but what makes China’s wet markets unusual, but well-known, is the extended range of animals offered, including the wildlife and extinct animals. There are numbers of animals from all around the world and has a high probability to be a carrier of its own virus straight to the market. These animals can be sick, wounded or even infected by deadly viruses like the coronavirus. The answer to why all these animals are in the same market is because of a decision made by the Government of China, decades ago.
The 1960s – Government Supports Wildlife Farming & Trading In China
During the year 1958 to the year 1961, China was stumbling badly and was disconnected. At that time, more than 36 million people died because of the severe famine, a.k.a. ‘The Great Famine’. And the Communist administration, which was governing all the food production, was unable to feed it’s more than 900 million population.
I traveled to one village and observed 100 dead bodies, then a different village and extra 100 dead bodies. None cared for them. Some said that dogs were consuming human corpses. Not right, I said. The dogs had long before been consumed by the people.-Yu Dehong, the secretary of a party official in 1959 and 1960
In 1978, on the fence of the failure, the government administration gave up its control over the food production and permitted private farming. While large businesses, increasingly dominated the production of prominent foods like pork and poultry, some minor farmers rolled towards capturing and raising up of the wild animals, as a strategy to maintain their survival.
At the very onset, it was primarily peasant household, backyard farming of the turtles, for example. That’s how wildlife farming flew off the ground. And since it fed and sustained people, the Chinese government-backed it up. So it was unavoidable for the government to motivate people to make a living through whatever constructive exercise they can find themselves in. The government said, “no matter what you are executing, that’s ok, but bring yourself out of the poverty.”
“But then in 1988, the government made a ruling which changed the configuration of wildlife trade in China. They announced the wildlife protection law which designated the animals as resources owned by the state (Law of People’s Republic of China for Protection of the Wildlife, Article#3, Chapter#1) and the state-protected people engaged in the utilization and the development of those wildlife resources.”
But then in 1988, the government made a ruling which changed the configuration of wildlife trade in China. They announced the wildlife protection law which designated the animals as resources owned by the state (Law of People’s Republic of China for Protection of the Wildlife, Article#3, Chapter#1) and the state-protected people engaged in the utilization and the development of those wildlife resources. That was the most devastating problem of the law because if we define wildlife as a natural resource, it directly means that we can utilize it for the advantage of humans. Furthermore, in the same law, Article 17, mentions that the domestication and breeding of the wildlife shall be encouraged and aided by the State. Anyone who intends to domesticate and breed wildlife under the special state protection shall obtain a license.
The Birth of Wildlife Farming Industry.
Minor and limited local farms twisted into industrial-sized operations. For example, one bear farm began with just 3 and eventually evolved to more than 1000 bears. A greater population meant a greater risk of dissipating disease from a sick animal.
Farmers were also expanding a wide category of wild animals which meant more viruses on the farms. Moreover, these animals were delivered to the wet markets for more earnings. When this legal wildlife farming was taking off, it provided a simultaneous buffer to Illegal Wildlife Farming. Endangered Species like tigers, rhinoceros, and pangolins were trafficking to China. In the early 2000s, these wet markets were overflowing with wild animals, when the unavoidable happened.
A deadly virus named SARS Virus broke out in China. Till then, China’s already reported over 1400 cases of the infection nationwide. It was the health officials were fearing of, all along. In 2003, the health officials traced back the SARS outbreak to a wet market in Foshan, Guangdong in southern China. Scientists found evidence of the virus in farmed Civet Cats. Chinese administrators soon closed the markets and banned wildlife farming. But, on 16th August 2003, just a few months after the outbreak of SARS, the Chinese government lifted off the prohibition on wildlife farming and affirmed 54 species of wildlife animals, including Civet Cats, legal to farm again, despite SARS risk.
In 2004, the wildlife farming industry was worth 100 billion yuan (roughly $14 billion USD). It wielded a considerable impact on the Chinese government. Wildlife farming was little and close to nothing in China’s massive GDP but the industry has a tremendous mobilization ability. It’s because of this impact that the Chinese government has enacted these markets to mature over the years. For example, in 2016, the Chinese government approved the farming of some endangered species like Tigers and Pangolins. By 2018, the wildlife farming industry had prospered to 148 billion yuan and had improved tricky marketing strategies to keep the markets lively.
The industry has been promoting these wildlife animal parts as fitness tonic products in bodybuilding, sex-enhancing, anti-aging and even in disease-fighting and curing. None of these claims is the truth. Still, these products became outstanding with a powerful fraction of China’s population. The majority of people in China do not eat wildlife animals. A small minority who can consume these wildlife animals are wealthy, powerful and dominant. It’s this minority that the Chinese government chose to favor over the safety of the rest of its population, nearly 1.4 billion. This bizarre marketable curiosity of a small number of wildlife eaters is seizing China’s national concern.
Quick Comparison between SARS, MERS, and Coronavirus
- Each year a predicted 290,000 to 650,000 people die in the world due to complexities from seasonal flu viruses. This number equals to 795 to 1,781 losses of lives per day.
- SARS (November 2002 to July 2003): was also a coronavirus that originated from Guangzhou, Southern China, spread to more than 28 countries, and resulted in 8,096 people infected with more than 800 deaths (with a fatality rate of 9.6%).
- Examining that SARS stopped after infecting 5,237 people in Southern China, Coronavirus from Wuhan excelled SARS on the 29th of Jan. 2020. Chinese officials confirmed that they had already encountered 5,974 cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Just on the next day, 30th Jan. 2020, the novel coronavirus cases exceeded even the 8,097 cases globally which were the closing SARS count in 2003.
- MERS (in 2012) took the life of 858 people out of the 2,494 affected (with a fatality rate of 34.4%).
Immediately after the coronavirus outburst, the Chinese government shut down hundreds, if not thousands, of wet markets and temporarily prohibited wildlife commerce once again. Activists have warned China that they need to apply a permanent ban on the wildlife industry. Can we not learn our lessons from the coronavirus epidemic? People are requesting to ban it this time, on the Chinese social media. In response, China is reportedly amending the Wildlife Protection Law that encouraged wildlife farming decades back.
If these endeavors steer to a stable and solid ban on wildlife farming only then such outbreaks (like coronavirus – COVID-19) are avoidable.
For more information on coronavirus, Chinese wet markets, viruses, and wildlife, there is an episode on the Netflix show (The Next Pandemic, Explained) which talks about how a coronavirus could spark the next pandemic and what the world’s experts are doing to stop it. That’s on the Netflix show, ‘Explained’.
I hope you would like the research I’ve done. It took a bit more of my time.
Please comment below to express your views freely. And if you like it, please share this article with your friends and stay safe.
God bless us all!