[Chinese version here: 中國正在偽造人類起源史]
In a previous post here, I talked about how China is stealing, faking, and making up research, as it has been reported by various scientific media, including Nature. BioMed Central, one of the publishers involved, believed this was NOT A CHINESE PROBLEM. And as it happens, they may have a Chinese problem themselves. Or at least Nature does.
In a recent article entitled “How China is rewriting the book on human origins”, published by Nature and written by Peking writer Jane Qiu, the author suggests that there is a possibility that humans did not evolve in Africa, as we all know, but in Asia. And not just in Asia, but in China. And in Peking! As it happens, everything came from China except fortune cookies.
Between 1927 and 1937, archaeologists discovered near Peking the remains of the Homo erectus pekinensis, an example of Homo erectus dated 300,000-500,000 years BP. Although nothing really changed in modern anthropology because of this discovery –besides classifying the Java Man as Homo erectus instead of Pithecanthropus–, many Chinese scholars then and now believed that this finding could prove that, wait for it:
Now, this would explain a lot, wouldn´t it?
According to Jane Qiu in Nature, the discovery of the Peking Man “helped to convince many researchers that humanity first evolved in Asia” and, despite fading into oblivion, “the tale of Peking Man has haunted generations of Chinese researchers, who have struggled to understand its relationship to modern humans”. This is partially true: Chinese researches with no training at all and who were living under the bloody Chinese regime during the Cultural Revolution were wrong. Just as wrong as Soviet scientists who develop the craziest ideas about the origins of the Universe, our Solar System, or the Moon. But one would like to believe that those were the days of a long time bygone, when books were burnt, ideas prosecuted, and people executed… if you get the irony.
Now, it is true, as the article says, that new discoveries in Asia –and everywhere– “are challenging conventional ideas about the evolutionary history of humanity”. That is basically how science works. What is not true at all, is that this “challenging” has anything to do with the “Out-of-China hypothesis”, as the author seems to imply when she quotes Wu Xinzhi, a paleontologist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Peking:
But it’s increasingly clear that many Asian materials cannot fit into the traditional narrative of human evolution.
As it happens with all pseudo-science, it’s all mambo-jambo with no content at all. What are those “Asian materials”? Why they cannot fit? And what is the “traditional narrative of human evolution”?
China’s nazionalist anthropology
More than one century ago, the phantasm of racism spread all around Europe in the form of nationalisms. Many countries, but especially Germany, claimed to be somehow superior to the rest of the world, both racially and culturally, and tried to trace back their roots to the so-called Arian race, a group of humans who evolved differently from the rest of the world or, at least, differently from black and Jewish people. While the inferior races of Europe freely merged with these inferior monkey-like creatures, the German people –the Germanos or Brothers, because they never mixed with foreigners– remained pure. They were superior and, thus, had a superior right over the land of those… let’s call them, for the sake of the argument, monkeys.
Back to Jane Qiu and China.
But many researchers, including most Chinese palaeontologists, contend that the materials from China are different from European and African H. heidelbergensis fossils, despite some apparent similarities. One nearly complete skull unearthed at Dali in Shaanxi province and dated to 250,000 years ago, has a bigger braincase, a shorter face and a lower cheekbone than most H. heidelbergensis specimens, suggesting that the species was more advanced.
Yes, you read it correctly. Because their head was slightly bigger, they were superior. And as it happens, some other totally different fossils are similar to the Peking Man, so why not establish a fallacious relation of continuity between both findings?
Discovered in Zhirendong, a cave in Guangxi province, the jaw has a classic modern-human appearance, but retains some archaic features of Peking Man, such as a more robust build and a less-protruding chin.
Most Chinese palaeontologists — and a few ardent supporters from the West — think that the transitional fossils are evidence that Peking Man was an ancestor of modern Asian people.
Chinese people are then the descendants of a totally or almost totally different species who developed independently in Asia. This pan-Asianism, of course, seems perilously close to Nazi claims over Europe, and it is not by chance that China has territorial claims over every single place surrounding it. Is it nationalism? No, they are facts! Facts with Chinese characteristics, of course.
The author of the article then proceeds to criticize those who, like me, say this is all about nationalism:
Some Western researchers suggest that there is a hint of nationalism in Chinese palaeontologists’ support for continuity. “The Chinese — they do not accept the idea that H. sapiens evolved in Africa,” says one researcher. “They want everything to come from China”.
On the other hand, Chinese researches state that “This has nothing to do with nationalism” and “It’s all about the evidence”. “Everything points to continuous evolution in China from H. erectus to modern human”.
What is the data and the evidence? As the author herself admits, there is however an “overwhelming genetic data that point to Africa as the wellspring of modern humans” and “Studies of Chinese populations show that 97.4% of their genetic make-up is from ancestral modern humans from Africa, with the rest coming from extinct forms such as Neanderthals and Denisovans”. So, where is the data?
The data is in China, and as the author recognizes “Most Chinese fossils — including some of the finest specimens, such as the Yunxian and Dali skulls — are accessible only to a handful of Chinese palaeontologists and their collaborators”. You see, for science to work, scientists anywhere should be able to replicate the findings and conclusions of their colleagues. If you conceal the data, you can even write a scientific paper about the Godly origins of the human hand, as a…huh… Chinese researcher did here.
China’s territorial claims and the idea of a different set of Asian values and human rights that has regained popularity in recent years is in direct relation with the claims of these anthropologists. If China can establish that their people are not only racially different, but also racially superior –or at least evolved earlier–, then they can claim almost anything in Asia, just as the Nazi regime did in Europe. China has territorial claims with North Korea (Baekdu Mountain), South Korea (Gando), Bhutan (Kulä Kangri, for instance), India (Aksai Chin, among others), Nepal, Taiwan (over Hong Kong, for instance), Indonesia (Natuna Islands), Vietnam (Paracel Islands), Philippines (Scarborough Shoal), Japan (Senkaku Islands), Malaysia and Brunei (Spratly Islands), Russia (Bolshoy Ussuriysky Island), and Pakistan (Shaksgam Valley). Just in the South China Sea, they have colluded –and they are the only ones who have actually taking active measures to ignite the conflict– with Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and even Indonesia.
Chinese territorial claims are not different from the Rhineland, the Anschluss, and the Lebensraum. In 1936 Hitler sent an expedition into the Rhineland, a place occupied by the Allies that was meant to remain demilitarized following the Treaty of Versailles. Like China with the famous nine-dash line in the South China Sea, Hitler took over this territory against International Law, an action that allowed him to pursue a policy of aggression in Eastern Europe.
Likewise, the Anschluss or Annexation was the idea that some territories with cultural ties to Germany or that once belonged to the ancestors of the German people, should be under Nazi control. Sounds familiar?
Finally, the Lebensraum or “vital space” was the idea that Germany had to expand itself because it had not enough vital space and, to do so, it needed to conquer and eliminate its neighbors. And because they were a superior race, there were legitimized to do so. China, on the other hand, does not need more “vital space”, but it lacks enough resources because of their destructive policies. That is why they need to claim more territories, and nationalism is a good instrument to conceil the reality of their pitiful situation.
China also believes that all these countries with which it has territorial disputes are inhabited by “monkeys” who “sell bananas”. Let’s just hope their Endlösung or Final Solution does not come any time soon.