This is the second of three articles that introduce readers to the research and mission of BGI Group, China’s leading genome sequencing company with customers around the globe. Its research involves collecting, studying, and altering human and animal genes to facilitate such things as biochemical weapons development and even customizing humans.
The BGI Annual Report for 2020 says it is committed to promoting China’s globalization efforts and supports the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “One Belt, One Road” strategy. The report shows how BGI expanded its operations across China, opened gene banks and research facilities in Xingjiang and Tibet, and is now serving customers in more than 100 countries.
The CCP strategy of a “Healthy China” has enabled BGI to conduct large-scale screening and acquire biomedical data on Chinese people. The accumulated data expedites their work in building a national network of gene banks and research bases targeting Chinese citizens. BGI is using the data to conduct “precision medicine” research and applications. Plans exist to continue expanding these bases and facilities throughout China.
BGI’s massive expansion plans were first revealed in 2018 by Wang Deming, Chairman of Nanjing Changjian Yujia Health Management Co. Deming was a business partner with BGI prior to suing them for breach of contract and refusing to provide remuneration for his services.
In a social media post, Deming alleged that BGI established quid-pro-quo relations with local government officials in many cities in Jiangsu province. In exchange for their cooperation and influence, BGI offered genetic testing and gene storage services to relevant officials so it could improperly siphon off state assets.
Wang Deming’s post included photos of Wang Jian, founder and Chairman of BGI Group, giving a speech while signing a strategic cooperation agreement on May 20, 2018, with the Nanjing Municipal Government of Jiangsu Province. The agreement included an offer to jointly build a health care data center and a demonstration base for the research, development, and application of gene technology.
Deming also provided the following chart to illustrate BGI had signed strategic agreements with officials in dozens of cities across 21 Chinese provinces and obtained land from those city governments. The list shows that the majority of the projects are under the name National Gene Bank, but BGI puts its own agenda in every one of them. For example, it shows that the Wuhan government provided over 200 acres of land and over $1.5 billion funds for the National Gene Bank-Wuhan Gene Bank. But BGI’s agenda is to build BGI Life TechTowns utilizing the resources. The red circles in the chart show the cities in which BGI built, or plans to build, TechTowns.
The chart also includes some bases that show special uses in Tibet, Qinghai, and Xinjiang. For example, BGI has set up a Plateau Bank of the National Gene Bank and a BGI base in Tibet; and a BGI base in the neighboring plateau province of Qinghai. The genes collected by these high-altitude facilities, said Deming, would be studied and utilized for military purposes.
This is consistent with a report published by Reuters in January saying that BGI has worked on CCP military projects aimed at making members of the ethnic Han Chinese majority less susceptible to altitude sickness, which would aid in combat in some border areas. The need for such endeavors was exemplified in 2020 when Chinese soldiers struggled with altitude sickness during clashes along the Sino-Indian border.
Another facility on the chart that BGI established is the “BGI Asia-Europe New Village” in Xinjiang, northwest China, where BGI studies the genes of Uyghur and other ethnic minorities. A gene samples survey in 2009 showed that Uyghurs in Xinjiang have 30 percent to 60 percent European/West Asian genes. Additional clarifying research published in 2019 by BGI found that, in comparison to the Han Chinese, Uyghurs in Xinjiang and Tibetans in Tibet, showed “significantly different” genetic variants that affected their health and responses to drugs.
In response to this research, the United States sanctioned two of BGI’s subsidiaries last year for what it claimed was China’s scheme to further suppress Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities with “abusive DNA collection and research.” BGI subsequently denied it was involved in any human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Other notable facilities on the above chart that BGI has established are an “Avatar” gene town in Hancheng City, Shanxi Province, and an international hunting ground vivarium in Qinghai Province.
In February 2017, Xu Xun, BGI’s Dean of Research Institute and Executive Director of the National Gene Bank, said BGI could revive the massive Ice Age mammoth in only three steps and that Chinese scientists had already grown living mammoth embryos.
The Epoch Times reporter contacted BGI regarding its cooperation with the military on plateau reactions in Tibet and research on the reactions of the Uyghurs to certain drugs. BGI confirmed receipt of the email but had not replied by press time.
Assisting Authorities in Implementing the CCP National Strategy
According to BGI, its genetic testing technology was developed rapidly during the CCP virus pandemic (COVID-19) and its “Fire-Eye” labs around the world “have been fully validated in the prevention and control of this outbreak.”
In its 2019 “Social Responsibility Report,” BGI said it was engaged in life improvement projects that are funded and promoted by the CCP. One example involves non-invasive prenatal genetic testing (NIPT) that is conducted in conjunction with several local governments, including Hebei Province, Shenzhen City, and Changsha City in Hunan Province. By the end of 2019, this project resulted in the genetic screening of more than 8 million pregnant women.
In addition to its NIPT research, BGI’s 2020 Annual Report said it had genetically screened more than 4 million cases of deafness, more than 790,000 cases of thalassemia, and had cooperated with more than 500 top tertiary hospitals in China, accumulating more than 110,000 tumor-related genetic tests and more than 130,000 cases of PMseq® pathogen microbial tests.
The BGI report said it is committed to promoting China’s globalization and supporting the “One Belt, One Road” strategy of the CCP. Toward this end, BGI formed a research network covering the whole country and to radiating the whole world, with customers spanning more than 100 countries and regions worldwide.
(To be continued in part three)