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China’s plan for medical domination If there's another pandemic, the West could be dependent on Beijing for vaccine development

Covid-19 vaccines were tested on primates (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

Covid-19 vaccines were tested on primates (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)


February 8, 2021   7 mins

Deborah Green1 has just made a life-or-death decision — and she isn’t happy about it. “We have two cancer drugs in development and we had to choose which one would move up to the next level,” she says. “We made our choice, but you can’t help wondering how many lives might have been saved by the other one.”

The choice made by Green, the head of animal testing compliance for one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, is one increasingly being made by biomedical researchers across the world — but not because of financial constraints, ethical considerations or scientific limitations.

It is all because of a shortage of monkeys.

On almost every continent, pharmaceutical research is being undermined by a dearth of primates caused by an export ban introduced by China last year to restrict the spread of Covid-19. It’s a measure that was initially welcomed in the West, but which is now being seen as an existential threat to biomedical research in the UK, Europe and the US.

Scientists fear that unless this shortage is addressed, the West will become dangerously reliant on China to test new treatments for heart disease, cancers and neurological disorders. More worryingly, come the next global pandemic, the ability to affect which vaccines are approved — and how quickly — could lie firmly in the hands of the Communist Party of China.

“It isn’t too dramatic to say that this could be the beginning of the end for biopharmaceutical research in the West,” says Green. “I believe China’s long-term aim is to become the world leader in the sector, the place you will have to go to if you want to test your products. But you have to ask yourself whether you want China to be in control of such an important part of our lives — and to have access to so much of our intellectual property.”

The past 12 months have well demonstrated China’s growing influence on the West. But while attention has been focused on Covid-19, Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G rollout and the threat to democracy in Hong Kong, its impact on Britain’s research sector has slipped under the radar.

Despite protests from critics, the testing of drugs and treatments on “Non-Human Primates” (NHPs), as scientists call them, cannot be replaced by computer modelling. It remains a requirement for many new drugs — including the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines — before trials can be allowed in humans.

In 2019, 2,015 new NHPs were used in experiments in the UK. Only 220 of them were not imported; most being bred under licence at a government breeding facility at Porton Down in Wiltshire. Some 1,154 came from breeding centres in Africa, largely from the island of Mauritius. And 782 came from Asia — roughly 75% of which came from China.

So when, in January last year, China imposed a ban on the export of all animals, the flow of a sizeable number of NHPs — roughly a quarter of those needed in the UK — was suddenly switched off. But that was only the beginning. British researchers also carry out a significant portion of their research through companies in other, worse-hit countries. And as a result, they have been left scrambling around to find the animals they need to complete their research.

US biotech companies were especially hard-hit. The US relies on China for 60% of its monkeys — some 35,000 a year — and because most of the big pharma companies are multinational, shortages in one area have resulted in bottlenecks in others, including the UK. Desperately in demand, the average price of the animals most-often used — rhesus macaques, cynomolgus macaques and marmosets — has doubled to $10,000 in the past year.

Kirk Leech, executive director of the UK-based European Animal Research Association, which represents contract research organisations (CROs) — private labs that conduct animal research on behalf of pharmaceutical companies — has seen rare cases of desperate firms paying $30,000 a-head for monkeys.

“As China is the primary source of NHPs purpose-bred for scientific purposes, this ban has had a dramatic impact on both the supply and the cost of NHPs around the world and the ability of researchers to access the animals essential for the development of new vaccines and medicines,” he says.

“This export ban is a clear and present danger to human health, creating obstacles to, and additional expenses for, the development of vaccines and therapeutics, including for Covid-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine relied on preclinical data generated by BioNTech in Germany, using rhesus macaques. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the Janssen vaccine have also relied on preclinical testing with NHPs for safety and efficacy.”

In the event of another global health crisis like the one we are experiencing, he warns, the repercussions could be severe: “Imagine a new pandemic; we would need a global response, we would need vaccine research and we would need to use NHPs. If shortages grow worse due to China’s actions, UK researchers would not be able to respond as they have to the Covid-19 pandemic. That is a real fear.”

Surely, then, the answer is simply to breed more monkeys outside China? In the long-term, that certainly seems to be the solution. But for at least half a decade, numbers will remain finite. More important, decisions to increase breeding could, counter-intuitively, make matters worse.

“The problem is we can’t simply increase the numbers of monkeys we have for sale,” one major Mauritian breeder told me, on condition of anonymity. “For every 100 breeding females, only around 60 babies are produced, and they are usually sold at two years. In order to increase the numbers, we would have to hold back females for breeding instead of selling them, and that would add to the shortage.

“We would have to hold them back for a further three years until they were mature enough to breed, and a female will produce only one baby every 18 to 20 months. A monkey generation [the time it takes for an animal to be born, reach adulthood and procreate] is five years, so that’s a whole generation taken out until numbers can be increased.

“Since the Chinese export ban, we’ve been receiving calls from researchers all round the world begging for monkeys. Some people sound desperate, but there’s nothing we can do in the short term.”

But if the situation is so potentially-damaging to the UK’s life sciences, why isn’t the research sector issuing dire warnings over its future ­— or lack of one?

According to senior industry insiders, there is a two-pronged reluctance to publicly debate the problem. First is the memory of violent demonstrations against the animal research sector at the turn of the century, when staff at Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) in Cambridgeshire were targeted by extremists. Brian Cass, managing director of HLS was beaten outside his home by three men; the company’s marketing director, Andrew Gay, was temporarily blinded in a chemical spray attack; and the homes of workers and contractors were firebombed.

Violent animal activism has since all but evaporated. Yet memories endure of its peak in 2006, when extremists dug up the body of Gladys Hammond, a member of the family which ran Darley Oaks in Staffordshire, a farm which bred guinea pigs for the research industry. Three people who “ransomed” the body in return for the farm halting its business were jailed for 12 years each, but the fear of attracting such levels of violence and hatred remain.

Second, and more significantly, there is concern among CROs that if it became public knowledge that they were being affected by primate shortages, their pharmaceutical clients might turn elsewhere — probably China.

Only one CRO in the UK was prepared to comment publicly, yet anonymously, saying the Chinese ban “will result in global demand exceeding supply and what initially began as a US issue will also negatively impact the European research sector. The lack of access to NHPs due to the China ban will create obstacles to the development of vaccines including for Covid-19 and therapeutics globally.”

Leech — who represents the CROs, as well as pharmaceutical companies, private researchers and some universities — has called upon the British government and the European Commission to demand China lifts the ban, arguing it is in breach of World Trade Organisation General Tariffs and Trade rules. He says importing countries had bio-safety arrangements in place within a month and that the ban could have been lifted by then. The UK and European Commission say they are conducting internal discussions but have not yet agreed to act.

As for why China would deliberately starve the US and Europe of such a vital resource, I twice asked the Chinese Embassy in London to address the accusation that its actions were designed to undermine research in the West, but it failed to reply.

It is worth noting, however, that such allegations about China’s quest for pharmaceutical dominance are nothing new. In 2016, David Cyranoski, writing for the journal Nature, was granted access to the Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Research near Kunming in south west China. In his article “Monkey Kingdom”, he described a research nirvana where animal rights activism doesn’t exist and bureaucracy presents no obstacles.

“With support from central and local governments, high-tech primate facilities have sprung up in Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Guangzhou over the past decade,” he wrote. “These centres can provide scientists with monkeys in large numbers, and offer high-quality animal care and cutting-edge equipment with little red tape.”

He described how “many [researchers] have since sought refuge for their experiments in China… Some of the Chinese centres are even advertising themselves as primate-research hubs where scientists can fly in to take advantage of the latest tools, such as gene editing and advanced imaging.”

Finally, and with estimable prescience, Cyranoski concluded: “With China fast becoming a global centre for primate research, some scientists fear that it could hasten the atrophy of such science in the West and lead to a near monopoly, in which researchers become over-reliant on one country for essential disease research and drug testing.”

Deborah Green agrees. “When you look at China’s stated intentions for their industry, there have been a number of moves that seem intended to drive research towards it,” she says. “That’s everything from their control over lab supplies, PPE, research animals and so on. You can look at what China is spending on pharmaceutical research and development. The US is the biggest investor in this sector but China is now very close, and that number has gone from a very low number to rivalling that of the US in a very short time.”

“This all adds up to a reason to believe that China is trying to take control of this sector,” says Green. “Between the moves to push research towards China, and the animal rights activity in Europe and the US, we are going to see a continuing diminishing of research in the western world and a shift of it towards China. There are already researchers from major academic institutions in the US, and Europe sending their primate work to China. It’s cheaper, there is less regulation and they have the capacity to do it.”

But if major institutions and drug companies start sending highly advanced and hugely sensitive research to be advanced in China, isn’t this a risk every bit as great as that posed by Huawei, whose role in Britain’s 5G infrastructure is now being blocked by the UK government?

“I think this all presents serious issues when you look at China’s attitudes to intellectual property (IP), in that it has a very poor record on respecting IP rights,” says Green. “There is a great risk in taking the products that we develop and sending them over there for testing”

One solution, she says, would be for Western governments to help to create the infrastructure to breed NHPs. “These animals can’t simply be bred anywhere,” she admits. “They need sub-tropical conditions because ideally from a welfare point of view, they should be raised outdoors in large spaces. But where this is possible in parts of the United States and southern Europe, a bit of government protection from animal rights activists would be welcome. In the meantime, we’re hanging on, but we’re losing by inches.”

And if the West does lose, it seems there will be only one winner: China.

FOOTNOTES
  1.  Deborah Green is a pseudonym

Steve Boggan is an investigative journalist and former Chief Reporter at The Independent. He is also the author of Follow the Money and Gold Fever.

tendollarguy

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Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

Can’t we substitute woke activists for NHPs, and test drugs on them? Then they’d actually be doing one useful thing in their lives.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

With or without anaesthetic?

It has an excellent Classical precedent in that vivisection is thought to have been practiced in Alexandria well before the birth of Christ.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

I wouldn’t insist on anaesthetic if we were talking about Monbiot.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Agreed, plus a number of other deserving candidates.

Geraint Williams
Geraint Williams
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Including the current Cabinet, which could be replaced by NHPs, which would do a considerably better job at running the country.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Perhaps we can ferret out some Chinese research papers from the Uyghur medical experiments.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

Don’t give them ideas. West Virginia will be next.

Nigel H
Nigel H
3 years ago

It’s not just medicine
One of my areas of interest is in tribology ““ the study of lubrication and wear. The standard scientific journal for the subject is, not surprisingly called, the Journal of Tribology. 25 years ago, there would be the odd paper (1 or 2) published by academics in China in each journal ““ if that. Now a scroll through the authors and their location is at least 25% Chinese.
Then there are authors with Chinese names studying abroad in collaborative research with others. So the Chinese research student takes away the fruits of the research success as they were a third/quarter/fifth of the team.
So the combination of the above 2 is about 40% Chinese- and rising.
Now the punchline ““ doing pre and post doctorate science and engineering research in the UK is difficult as the local/ European students tend to veer away from it, as the cost of continuing their education/ academic career is so expensive. In the UK, it’s the UK tax payer that’s helping to pay for the research, but fewer and fewer research students are from the UK. However, lots are from China, with the Chinese government paying their fees to study here. So we are approaching the point where the UK is “paying” for the Chinese students to do the UK’s research ““ yet the UK doesn’t get the deep knowledge gained by the work, and the Chinese are unlikely to honour any IP which finds its way back to their neck of the woods.
It won’t surprise anyone reading this to figure out what academic research areas are covered, and which aren’t.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel H

Identical in computing. Until a few years ago datasheets were always available in English. Today, the most hot chips have only a Chinese datasheet. It is also a long time ago that I read a computing paper that did not have Chinese looking names.

I doubt our kids are going to mind the debt they inherit that much. But I think they have a right to blame us how we’ve given away the table silver in a bizarre collusion between capitalists and and the formerly left only to get cheaper toys.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Very interesting. This seems to be just another example of the way in which the Chinese are running rings around the West. Of course, given the pathologies that have entered and occupied the Western mind, this is not especially difficult.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

“Pathologies” indeed – the perfect description of the rotting Western mind!

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago

Well, for a start it is clear the Medical Science is now more about making money than progress in science and the curing of disease. So why is anyone surprised that China uses medical science and research industries to dominate, just like all the other areas where the west has now been made totally dependent on Chinese goods ?

The arrogant stupidity of western politicians, thinking they can ‘play’ China and the greed of the Globalist companies, sacking their western workforces to make more money in China, have as a consequence the aiding of China towards total world domination in all things.

It reminds me of the squabbling self-serving European powers in 1453 – arguing with each other – Venice and Genoa – England fighting to hold on in France -and losing – all of them looking the other way while the Turks moved in and snatched the barely defended great prize of Constantinople and ended 1,000 years of the Byzantine Christian Empire…… at a stroke !

The noble Knights of Christendom could not believe what had happened under their very noses .

Here we go again. “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake” ( Napoleon)

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
3 years ago

Canada has been out of favour with China since it decided to detain and hold for extradition a Huawei exec on behalf of the U.S. Since then, China has been very clearly taking measures to punish Canada, including conducting retrials of Canadian citizens incarcerated in China, the new sentences being capital punishment. Then, so wisely, Canada decided to contract with a Chinese pharma for a bulk of its Covid vaccines, only to have the contract cancelled just before rollout, leaving Canada hobbled in its attempts to take care of its citizens. Draw your own conclusions.

Joe Francis
Joe Francis
3 years ago

China is becoming the Denis Waterman of nations. Write the theme song, sing the theme song.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

So who is Arthur Daley then?

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
3 years ago

So let me get the maths right, in 2019:
2015 NHPs were used in experiments in the UK; 71 % non-Chinese origin, with 29% (586) from China.
So we have to breed another say 600 to make up the shortfall from China. 5 years to maturity, not insurmountable I would suggest. Time to get cracking.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

It is not just medical domination that the CCP is pursuing.

judykwarner
judykwarner
3 years ago

I wonder how much money China has invested in western animal rights groups. However much it is, they are getting a great return.

Peter de Barra
Peter de Barra
3 years ago
Reply to  judykwarner

… the MSS reach is a long one …

James Vernier
James Vernier
3 years ago

Hegemony in all areas is their stated goal! Why should this move surprise us? We must develop alternative sources to every area in which we rely on China. They means, every area!

Pierre Pendre
Pierre Pendre
3 years ago

If this is part of the CCP’s masterplan, it can only be successful temporarily while the West ramps up monkey farming. Worse is the extent, after Covid, to which we discovered the West is dependent on the manufacture in China of drugs on which we rely, presumably a byproduct of short-sighted offshoring of an essential resource by Western pharmaceutical companies. We need to repatriate the manufacture of pharmaceutical products in order not to be held hostage.

Niall Quinn
Niall Quinn
3 years ago

China has already been a go-to for western scientific establishments because of its relatively lax ethical standards. Indeed, following the Obama administration’s ban on gain of function research, scientists have been using Chinese labs (including the Wuhan Institute of Virology) to carry out such research. In that context, especially with Chinese military interest in GOF work, it can be reasonably assumed that western intelligence is never far away. WIV is of course the possible source of sars cov2. Go figure.

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago
Reply to  Niall Quinn

Obama banned gain of function research here while allowing Fauci to send American tax $$$ to Wuhan to do his lousy work there. And now we’re dealing w the disastrous results.

Thanks, Obama.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago

While the writer is right to flag up that we may be dangerously reliant on a single source of monkeys for research and indeed that that source may not be entirely benign, it would be perfectly possible, given some investment to source monkeys from elsewhere and easily doable for countries with a bit of motivation to breed their own monkeys. So PETA and animal rights activists would get nasty about it…. So what? Arrest them and lock them, up. Indeed, were it left to me, I’d use THEM for medical experiments.

One thing which continually disappoints me is that everything is written in apocalyptic terms. China (had it the desire to do so, which I think is questionable) can only restrict our research, if we are spineless enough and feeble enough to allow it to happen. WE are not the EU. We can very rapidly respond to problems which are existential issues. Our spectacular vaccine procurement like that of some other countries demonstrates that.

animal lover
animal lover
3 years ago

If we would spend as much money on developing natural remedies and focusing on diet, we wouldn’t even need all the pharmaceutical chemicals and vaccines. Probably a tenth of what we are using now. Why don’t we do this??

Simple answer – the pharmaceutical companies don’t make a profit.

Penelope Newsome
Penelope Newsome
3 years ago

I am not a violent animal rights activist, but i do support non -animal research etc. I don’t see why in this very sophisticated IT age computer modelling can’t be developed to replace these thousands of poor monkeys. Imagine if one day indeed super human robots decide that humans should now be bred for pharmaceutical research? We are taking advantage of a less developed species , so why should they not feel they can do the same to us ?

It’s obviously high time to stop all this cruelty to animals, especially to primates so near to us in evolution. I hope maybe this fear of Chinese domination will make the West see that animals are not necessary and that they are being actually very cruel and horrible to use them.

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago

“I don’t see why in this very sophisticated IT age computer modelling can’t be developed to replace these thousands of poor monkeys”. Something tells me this is not your field of expertise. Whilst this modelling is being developed are you volunteering yourself to test if the medicines humans need are safe? Or would you prefer that they die? Which is cruel and horrible.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago

“Imagine if one day indeed super human robots decide that humans should now be bred for pharmaceutical research?”

You mean Josef Mengele, Unit 731 etc and our ongoing unethical testing using foetus’ It seems we have been there done that.

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
3 years ago

Because you cant make a computer model of something you dont understand. And even with things you do understand, computer models are very very simple compared to reality. They aren’t useful. Mathematical models of the brain are toy like. We dont really know very much about the brain, and what we do know we learned from animals and surgical patients. We do actually do experiments on humans when they need surgery, but we dont get enough opportunities to replace animals. Some brain regions can be invesrigated with rodents, and we do that where possible. For other regions monkeys are the only option. Computer models are not even close to being useful.

It is worth pointing out that monkeys are not little humans. They see the world differently to us. Some things that distress you might not distress a monkey, and vice versa. Clearly they do not live ideal lives in a cage, even a really large cage. But their wild lives are very brutal indeed. Rhesus macaques have large fangs which are weapons for use on other monkeys. They murder each other and each others children, and even their own children constantly is the truth.

larry tate
larry tate
3 years ago

I do agree with you totally. Having read the article, a clever idea came to my mind. In reference to our “need” to use primates in science, why don´t we promote the use of all serious criminals lying in our prison facilities as guinea pigs for experimentation?
Surely we would be doing two great things for the betterment of the human species. On the one hand, we would be making use of the criminal population in a sensible and fair way, having them to pay back to society in a more fitting manner that just sitting around watching telly and smoking weed ( on our pockets). On the other hand, we would save the huge amount of money required to feed and care for this large population of criminals. The easiest way would be to strip all serious criminals (white collar ones included of course) from all of their human rights. No lawyers claiming mercy. Once a criminal one becomes automatically food for the lab. End of the problem, forever.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  larry tate

Computer models that the “climate emergency” is based on continually predict catastrophes that never occur as we reach the projected year of inevitable apocalypse, yet the same models when fed with all known data, cannot “predict” past events…

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago

The US needs a big foreign enemy to keep its own fractious tribal culture(s) from falling apart. Periodically, old actors are given a vacation and new ones are called in. Russia played the role well for a long time, but then got tired. They came back for a bit, having been poked by the NATO stick, but weren’t really interested. The Muslims, having been harassed for generations, tried out for the part but couldn’t play it very well. The only other possibility at the moment is China. The problem with China is that they are too useful in other roles, which is essentially what this article is about. Not enough monkeys? We have plenty of monkeys in the West. Just look around.

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
3 years ago

I suppose that at some point, we might well have to choose between the USA or China for our so called special relationship or find some way of trying to be best friends with both of them. Heave help us if we ever have to make a choice

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago

The choice seems obvious and happily it is one we have already made. Our tolerance of China quite rightly is and will continue to go into reverse in order to preserve our way of life. The CCP are evil.

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Goodman

In the end it might come down to ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune’ and we will have to choose which ever one looks like the best bet for our future. I wouldn’t be quite so sure as you. To use Gove’s phrase ‘, there are going to be a few bumps in the road ‘ before we reach a smooth way ahead. God help us if Russia and China come to some sort of agreement on ‘mutual cooperation’ and God help,us if the USA loses its way.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

It occurs to me from the fear stoking yellow peril comments in the article and below that some credit the CCP with planning and executing the most amazing acts of commercial, intellectual and cultural warfare against other nations. They have massive problems at home with corruption, fraud, illicit drug manufacture, pollution etc. With near totalitarian control they should be as adept at solving these issues as they supposedly are at stopping our flow of monkeys for experimentation. Leaving aside the ethical questions raised by playing Mengele with monkeys surely its not so much the Chinese are cleverer than us? Its more our politicians are incredibly stupid by comparison, and hell bent on dragging our societies down to their level. The Chinese reward intellectual effort, innovation and commerce as long is doesn’t rock the CCP boat. For some reason the UK ruling party elite seem to fear learning and hard work as much as they fear imbecilic boat rockers like Piers Corbyn as if he were Mao on the Long March. That tells us all we need to know about their intellect and morals, or lack thereof.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago

The Chinese leadership seems to be getting everything right. They are buying up mineral assets in Africa and property everywhere. I don’t know what they think about human caused climate change, but they treat it as the fraud it is. If the Chinese can live with the constraints imposed on them, it isn’t working out too badly. In comparison the west is run by idiots.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

I have been resisting the urge to make this comment all day but after a couple of long necks and a cone i can’t stop myself. Are we sure this guy’s name doesn’t contain a typo? I mean Bogan wisdom will always opine “you gotta watch these yella fellas mate, they’re wily oriental gentlemen”

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

You should have desisted; the cone must have addled your brain. The Cubans and the Venezuelans are just as bad an not “yella” and not as powerful. Nothing wrong with Chinese people just the evil CCP.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Goodman

I think you’ve missed my point, i think the piece is sinophobic and for some reason thought the writer is an Aussie cos he wrote for the SCMP. He isn’t. Bogan is an Aussie term equating to Rube in US English and i think possibly Chav in UK but its not as perjorative as Chav. Bogans are salt of the earth types, often have mullets and tattoos, typically blunt of speech and fond of liquor and weed. Think Bon Scott c1976. Not sure where the LatAm stuff comes from – Communists in Cuba and Venezuela have failed to change society in any meaningful way compared to Mao and the CCP. As with most fake prejudice accusation its utter madness – my wife of nearly 40 years is Chinese and my second language is Spanish!

Stephen Boggan
Stephen Boggan
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

..

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

The author obviously isn’t a Bogan – he has teeth. Equally his words are just not sinophobic just mildly and appropriately critical of the evil CCP.

I think Cubans and Venezuelans may disagree with you that those communist regimes have not brought meaningful change. Clearly they have. Just not for the better. But at least not as murderously as Mao.

It’s not prejudice to abhor the CCP regime; its politics. My loathing is more in sympathy with the Chinese people than anything else, or at least those Chinese who live under their control. The CCP is not benign; they are seriously dangerous to the Chinese, dangerous to the Taiwanese dangerous to us and if anything we have let it go too far because our greed has trumped our morality.

John Urwin
John Urwin
3 years ago

In case you have not read it, “Hidden Hand” by Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg sets out how the Chinese Communist Party is manoeuvring to became the world’s leading power. The subtitle is “Exposing how the CCP is reshaping the World”…

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago

Surely the solution is to offer payment in peanuts.

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
3 years ago

That is appalling on so many levels. Looking at their human rights record I dread to imagine monkeys’ rights. Another reason for becoming more self-sufficient.

Allan Edward Tierney
Allan Edward Tierney
3 years ago

Using terms such as ‘domination’ in reference to China is irresponsible. It projects a jingoistic aim desiring a warlike stance and is wholly inappropriate. China has the most successful global economy and will soon eclipse the economic power and reach of the USA. This is at the root of the current aggressive western stance we are seeing so often these days and is a symptom of elite western paranoia rather than anything else. Our elites are convinced that only they continuing to judge, monitor and manipulate world events can assure stability and the rue of law. This stance comes from a long history that has by no means proven the above case. Genocide, slavery, colonialism and in recent years regime change justified by half-truths and outright lies have not produced a stable and just world, but in fact the opposite. It’s time to stop supporting this myopic devotion to western elitism and acknowledge that China is no enemy and her increased reach shows every sign of bringing the goal of a stable and peaceful planet to actuality rather than the constant belligerence and exceptionalism demonstrated by the West.

timjuk
timjuk
3 years ago

I run a small science based marketing company. https://marketwise.co.uk. Over the last 10 years, I’ve witnessed exponential growth in the amount of researchers and institutions that are based in China. Obviously almost all are government backed. They are researching every imaginable advanced topic.
It feels like we haven’t seen anything yet, the West is asleep at the wheel, it could already be too late to keep up.

johnsmithkalk
johnsmithkalk
3 years ago

COVID-19, with all its travel restrictions, had meant closed borders for different countries.In Australia, a border worker at Auckland Airport has been found to be positive for coronavirus. The airport’s employee belonged to the group of fully vaccinated border workers. The Ministry of Health has confirmed that COVID-19 protocols of contract tracing, isolating and interviewing have commenced.

johngrant4est
johngrant4est
3 years ago

It seems odd, given the public concern over animal research (and suffering in particular) that we are not investing in research to find ex vivo and in vitro alternatives to NHPs. It doesn’t seem too far-fetched to speculate that advances in genetics and bioengineering could lead to development of an ex vivo ‘model’ of the human immune system that would 1. Give more reliable and meaningful results than infecting macaques with viruses and measuring their immune response, and 2. Cost a lot less than $10K to produce.

Carl Goulding
Carl Goulding
3 years ago

Sounds like research has become just another big business. I wonder how much of this research is actually really essential and what the so called benefits are…..apart from increasing profits of pharmaceutical companies?

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
3 years ago
Reply to  Carl Goulding

The thing about research is that you don’t know it’s essential till you’ve done it, and any large advance relies on many smaller previous advances, the benefit of which is not always obvious till it’s used. For example, I am developing a new form of brain scan. This may well help detect the early phases of Alzheimer’s. I’m doing it using marmoset monkeys. My paper cites about 50 other papers. One of those, for example, was from a lab at Monash university in australia, where they mapped the motor areas of the marmoset brain, in 2008. I need that information to proceed, but in 2008 they didn’t do it to help me, they just did it because it’s the thing to do. I recently found that the woman who did that paper in 2008 was attacked by animal rights activists for doing “pointless research”. It’s not pointless just because it’s not clear exactly how it will be used. Her attackers simply lack sufficient knowledge to understand how research works in a general sense. From a scientists perspective, it’s obvious that mapping marmoset motor cortex will probably come in handy. Basically it’s sort of your attitude that’s killing medical research in the west actually. That’s the truth of it. Becuase we (academic scientists rather than commercial) are funded by general taxation. Compared to other area of public spending, we cost very little and produce rather a lot. But this naive attitude you and very many others have about what is useful and what is not, filters through into funding decisions, so that we have to show immediate benefit when we apply for money, even though everyone invloved knows that’s not how science works. It works by slowly gathering knowledge.

It has crossed my mind that there are exciting work opportunities in China. An entire department at Max Planck recently moved to China. They just put their equipment on a ship and left Germany. China a much more supportive environment. They fund it because it’s in their national interests. They don’t care what people think, they just do it. That said the Chinese population seem entirely happy with the idea that China might lead the way in making medical and other scientific adavances. In the west we used to be that way too.

kirk leech
kirk leech
3 years ago

Thanks Anne, very useful contribution. If you need EARA’s support, you can catch me here kleech@eara.eu

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
3 years ago
Reply to  kirk leech

Thanks for that Kirk.

Anayo Unachukwu
Anayo Unachukwu
3 years ago

Thank you for your excellent insight on research related challenges and the casual attitude of the unsuspecting public. It was Nikola Tesla who drew our attention to the ‘boldness of ignorance.’ I dare say, it’s making its round in all spheres of human endeavours; while the Chinese are quietly advancing their hegemony by exploiting the dividends of the institutions and infrastructure in the West.

We are yet to coin a world to account for a communist state that exploits both the capitalist systems and its people as well as people that live in autocratic regimes. When we do, the whole world will wake up from its deep slumber.

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
3 years ago

They are hugely exploiting the institutions and infrastructure of the west. They are plunduring us for training and expertise really. But we make no attempt to stop them. And if they want to pay scientists a good wage and give them good facilities and a good bureacratic environment for their work, then I think that is something to consider as a rational indviidual person. They have energy to succeed, like we had after the second world war. There have been many chinese friends and colleagues at my institution for many decades now, most of whom changed their first names to be more pronouncable for us. Perhaps it is time for me to learn their language instead.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Carl Goulding

Well, if the research is inessential, it can’t be used, and if it can’t be used, it can’t really help with “increasing profits of pharmaceutical companies”, can it?

Besides, what’s wrong with that anyway? The alternative is state science – Lysenko, eugenics, climatology. Those all went really well.

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

We basically do have state science, in terms of actual research. Its done in universities isnt it. Drug companies or private companies arent really interested in because the returns take too long. It’s one area where state funding is essential in practice. It doesnt really cost much though and it tends to sprout a lot of private enterprise nearby.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

You have to remember that science and scientists have a bad name because of Covid – everyone wants someone to blame. Scientists are easy because, unlike you, they don’t join in these conversations, which are more for PPE students.

I worked in university research for about 5 years and, as you imply, there were Research Fellows there who only thought of the next two years’ grant – no ambition, no urgency. Which is why I left and went into manufacturing, which would not pay enough for research because it wanted profits NOW.

Today, if anybody makes a profit it becomes (drum roll) Big Business, a distasteful thing which is something to frighten your children with. But I have visited manufacturing sites in Asia, where they do things properly; the scientists really know their business. I guess we are frightened of them and feel more cuddly when we think of the USA – a country which is overrated science-wise, except in the development of armaments.

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I didnt really know we had a bad name because of covid. We didnt cause that. There wasnt any time to figure it out and gather information and find an agreement. Science isnt really a rapid response thing. I mean the vaccine stuff has gone well, but no one knows how to handle things with lockdowns or not or whatever. How can anyone know that? No one really listens to scientists anyway, they just pick and choose what they want to hear. I live in the UK but at the moment I tele work with an american group. America is still far ahead of most places for neuroscience but it’s in terminal decline and china already won. The reasons are cultural. Europe doesnt really get a look in. Its about the use of monkeys. You have to use them in neuroscience because their brains are more like ours than those of rats. The Europeans reject that outright, Americans partially reject its and the Chinese embrace it. They see the opportunity to beat us. They are taking it.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I mostly enjoy your posts and debate points, but this constant harping on the US becomes tiresome-surely you can make your often cogent arguments without these compulsive digs…

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago
Reply to  Carl Goulding

Hilariously naive. “what the so called benefits are” …of research? of safe medicine? With attitudes like that the west is doomed. You will not have to worry about big business when the CCP runs and owns everything nor monkey testing because they will have no qualms about using humans. Oh and my granny’s pension comes from pharma dividends.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Carl Goulding

What a ridiculous and utterly stupid comment.

Charles McEwan
Charles McEwan
3 years ago

Are we sure we want to use animals anyway? SARS, MERS, COVID, AIDS are diseases that have come to us from animals. Do vaccines developed using animals not make humans more susceptible to animal born diseases. Also scientists have been creating human animal hybrids in the lab and then experimenting on them before killing them. This is like something orcs and trolls in the Lord of the Rings

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles McEwan

“Do vaccines developed using animals not make humans more susceptible to animal born diseases”

Astounding!

3 science GCSE’s should be a minimum requirement for eligibility to vote.

Jean Fothers
Jean Fothers
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Goodman

GCSEs not being worth the paper they are written on. I suppose you have some though, and consequently think you are well educated.

Allan Edward Tierney
Allan Edward Tierney
3 years ago

I am heartened to hear that China is playing an ever more dominant role globally. This can only herald a world more closely aligned with the ethos of finding mutually beneficial agreement rather than indulging in divisive aggression as we see constantly from the USA and UK. I welcome the rise of China as our world’s most hopeful sign of future unity of purpose through trade and not through the present trading of insults as generated almost exclusively by western nations. All power to the wiser heads of China I say!

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

Is this irony? If not, I agree with you.

We tend to be afraid of China because it is different. We love the USA (with all of its weapons) and feel cuddly when we watch all their movie stars strut their stuff. I can assure you that, except for armaments, China is about 20 years ahead of the USA in its science and development. They will win the battle and the USA will have to use its armaments and concoct reasons to step in.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Probably all the Uighers are helping in the “scientific”
experiments -albeit unwillingly. Does it remind you of a similar situation in the not too distant past?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

It reminds me of the constant interfering by the USA in the politics of South America, of the decision to invade Viet Nam to save the world from communism, of making Cuba an enemy of the state because it had the wrong politics, thereby making the people of Cuba suffer. It reminds me that the USA can use its technology to kill everybody, not just one group of people.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Well…the USA is not up to 100 million yet-as are the freedom loving “others” who “interfered in the politics of Cuba and the rest of the world…but we digress again, don’t we Chris?

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The ‘logic’ of anti-Americanism (as opposed to valid critiques) is always, ‘the enemies of America must be fine and dandy’. No, a sharing of enmity does NOT make an ally. Look closely, be objective. Don’t be a ‘useful idiot’

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I mostly prefer British movie stars-who rarely strut.

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

No we are afraid of China because they put their people in education camps and drive tanks over protesters. The CCP killed more than Stalin and Hitler together.

Taiwan’s independence from China needs to be recognised so we do not abandon the Taiwanese as we have the people of Honk Kong.

David Adams
David Adams
3 years ago

Troll

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  David Adams

So, this site is not a free site for discussion? If in doubt revert to name calling. See the posts below by a research scientist who will tell you what is really going on in the world as you sit in front of your computer.

Gary Taylor
Gary Taylor
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Read Allan’s other comments on Disqus. David is correct.

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Discussion, yes, state sponsored propaganda, no.

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall
3 years ago

It’s the perfect plan for a Bond movie to rule the world: Dr Evil’s biolabs concoct the virus and its vaccine simultaneously; then create a pandemic; supply the antidote to the rest of the world but only in exchange for trade, political and military concessions. Rinse and repeat. I think it’s a winner as a movie :-))

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Hall

And as world domination.

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
3 years ago

5 comments, all praising China and criticising the USA. Transparent or what? Up your game mate, you are fooling no-one.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

you are heartened at becoming a subject? Okay, but I doubt you’ll like it much.

rogerbarber.rb
rogerbarber.rb
3 years ago

Go and discuss that with some Uighur’s (if you can find them).

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago

Oh dear. More “bipolar world” drivel from you Allen. Course the evil west rejects the “good actors” in Russia and China. Except of course the are both rotten oppressive regimes. We need less contact with them not more.

Which is it: a) your looking for a rise? b) employed by CCP? c) Your an engineer and so have dictatorial tendencies?