It was one of those small, seemingly innocuous announcements from the Chinese government.

The report appeared in the official Xinhua news agency, a government propaganda arm.

It said China is opening up old bomb shelters in central Chongqing so people could cool off from the summer heat.

Isn’t that sweet, I thought. Isn’t that compassionate? Boy, these communist tyrants aren’t so bad, after all.

And I kept reading.

The government had decided to open 24 cool, underground air-raid shelters, most of them built in the 1960s and 1970s.

“A heat wave with high humidity has hit Chongqing since last week, making life unbearable to residents, many of whom only have electric or palm-leaf fans to cool off,” the Xinhua report explained.

Indeed, it was hot in Chongqing this week – about 93 degrees. Temperatures were over 100 in Beijing.

The government was even going to make sure the shelters were equipped with free tea, chairs, books and newspapers for those trying to escape the heat.

But here’s where it got really interesting for me.

The bomb shelters, the report said, covered an area of more than 70,000 square meters – or some 17.3 acres – and could accommodate tens of thousands of people.

That’s some expanse of bomb shelters. That’s quite a bit bigger than anything the United States has constructed to protect its civilian population. For people who don’t put much value on human life, these communists have done quite a bit of civil-defense work.

And if you know anything about Chinese civil defense, this is not one of the largest or most elaborate.

The Chinese government referred to these shelters as “old.” Yet, while they may not be China’s newest shelters, they were built in the ’60s and ’70s, about the time the United States began systematically closing down most of its civil-defense fallout shelters.

I have been a longtime proponent of civil defense here in the United States. But I’ve about given up on the idea of the U.S. government ever getting back into the business of building shelters. Why? Because it is an entirely appropriate and constitutional function of the federal government to do so – and that means it’s the last thing Washington would ever consider doing.

We were told in the ’60s and ’70s that civil-defense preparations were “provocative.” We were told that they were useless. We were told that there was no surviving a nuclear war. We were told it was a waste of money.

Yet the Chinese didn’t see it that way. And, evidently, since they haven’t closed down these facilities – and have maintained them in a fashion that permits public access today – they still see some usefulness, besides providing shade from the heat on humid summer days.

While I’ve given up on appealing to the good sense of Washington’s elected officials, who still do not even recognize the continuing mega-threat to our national security posed by our unsecured, open borders, I do bring this anecdote to your attention for a reason.

Civil-defense preparedness is something responsible U.S. citizens can do for themselves. And since the government is clearly not going to protect you, it would be wise to take precautions for your own family. A good place to start is the website of Dr. Art Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.

We live in dangerous times.

In fact, I’m not at all sure the Chinese news release was not designed to send a message to the West. What would that message be? Are the Chinese signaling that they are more prepared for an ultimate showdown with the United States some day? Are they familiarizing their citizens with the shelters because they expect they will be needed for another purpose some time?

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