China military firm attempting to set up entity in US to avoid regulatory scrutiny, Congressmen say

American Congressmen Mike Gallagher and Raja Krishnamoorthi raise concerns about Chinese military company BGI's attempt to set up a new firm, Innomics, in Massachusetts and Kentucky to avoid scrutiny. They urge the Pentagon to label problematic Chinese biotech companies working towards military objectives. China’s focus on biotechnology for national power is highlighted.

PTI | Washington DC | Updated: 02-04-2024 05:02 IST | Created: 02-04-2024 05:02 IST
China military firm attempting to set up entity in US to avoid regulatory scrutiny, Congressmen say
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Two powerful American Congressmen have said that a Chinese military company, BGI, is attempting to set up a new firm, Innomics, in Massachusetts and Kentucky to avoid regulatory scrutiny.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday, Chairman Mike Gallagher and Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi of the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party also identified other problematic Chinese biotech companies in the US working to advance the Chinese military's and the Chinese Communist Party's objectives and goals.

"We write urging you to swiftly implement Section 1312 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 - Analysis of Certain Biotechnology Entities – requiring the Department of Defense (DoD) to identify and place problematic People's Republic of China (PRC) biotechnology companies on the DoD's 1260H list of Chinese Military Companies within 180 days," they wrote.

Sorting through overwhelming evidence of the CCP's collaboration and research, the two Congressmen called for the Pentagon to consider labelling the MGI Group and Complete Genomics, Innomics and STOmics, Origincell, Vazyme Biotech and Axbio as 'Chinese Military Companies'.

China's 14th Five-Year Plan identifies dominance in biotechnology as critical to 'strengthen China's science and technological power' and calls to deepen military-civil science and technology collaboration in the sector, they wrote.

"PRC military and academic literature further stresses the importance of biotechnology to national power, arguing success on the future battlefield will require 'achieving biological dominance,' with one former president of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) National Defense University openly discussing biotech's ability to create synthetic pathogens that are 'more toxic, more contagious, and more resistant.' Urgent action is needed to identify the PRC biotechnology entities at the forefront of this work," Krishnamoorthi and Gallagher wrote in the letter.

MGI Group and Complete Genomics are subsidiaries of PLA-affiliated firm BGI, which has been implicated in human rights abuses, and illicit collection of genetic data, and is already a company on the DoD's 1260H list. MGI uses Complete Genomics in the US market to compete, often obscuring Complete Genomics' ties to MGI, BGI, and the CCP. As direct affiliates of BGI, MGI and Complete Genomics should be added to the 1260H list without delay, they said.

Innomics and STOmics are subsidiaries of PLA-affiliated firm BGI, operating in the United States. According to corporate filings, Innomics recently registered to conduct business operations in the State of Kentucky under the name "BGI Americas Corporation" and it shares the same "Attorney of Record" as BGI with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The Innomics website does not mention its affiliation with BGI or MGI, but its sales materials for genetic sequencing reference product codes for machines produced by BGI subsidiaries, MGI and Complete Genomics. STOmics is a similarly situated subsidiary, making no mention of its ties to BGI on its English-language website, but STOmics Mandarin-Chinese language website proudly identifies it as a subsidiary of BGI. STOmics English-language website links it to MGI and Complete Genomics, which are also subsidiaries of BGI, they wrote.

The letter said Origincell operates a cell bank network and bio storage technologies, with ties to the PLA and CCP. Origincell was the prime supplier for a Military-Civil Fusion project to build a bio-sample storage bank, and the company has hosted officials from the CCP's United Front Work Department at their company headquarters. Origincell has also held workshops for scholars from the PLA's National Defense University.

According to the letter, Vazyme Biotech is a global leader in the design and manufacturing of bioactive compounds. Vazyme's investors include the "Military Index Securities Fund," "Defense and Military Industry Hybrid Securities Investment Fund," "China Securities Military-Industrial Securities Investment Fund," and 12 other PLA-affiliated investment funds. In 2022, the Propaganda Department of the CCP's Jiangsu branch awarded Vazyme's Chairman, Cao Lin, an award for his work in science and technology.

"When receiving the award, Cao Lin heralded the 20th National Congress of the CCP's focus on science and technology. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has designated Vazyme as a "little giant" in a pledge of state support for the company," they said.

The two Congressmen said Axbio conducts research and development on next-generation genetic sequencing equipment and smart biochips. It is directly funded, in part, by the PRC's State Development and Investment Corporation.

"Axbio has alarming ties to Russian entities, including the Russian Academy of Sciences and Russian Research Centre of Medical Genetics. Axbio has also repeatedly engaged with the PLA-affiliated company BGI during the company's work. Axbio has signed strategy cooperation agreements with Russia's Institute of Biomedical Chemistry and the Chinese Academy of Sciences," they wrote.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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