US Lawmakers Seek Intelligence Briefing on CCP Infiltration of Winnipeg Lab

US Lawmakers Seek Intelligence Briefing on CCP Infiltration of Winnipeg Lab
The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg is seen in a May 19, 2009, photo. (The Canadian Press/John Woods)
Andrew Chen

A U.S. Congressional committee is seeking a briefing from the country’s top intelligence official on Beijing’s infiltration of Canada’s highest-security lab in Winnipeg, following revelations that two scientists there collaborated with the Chinese military to obtain Western technologies.

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce is requesting a briefing on the findings of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) related to the activities of the two fired Winnipeg scientists, Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng.
Committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers described the two as “spy-scientists” in a May 24 letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.

The committee is investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic with the intent of informing legislative discussions regarding biosecurity reforms.

As part of the investigation, Ms. Rodgers’ committee is specifically seeking information related to the two scientists’ communications with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China. The letter highlighted that information recently disclosed by CSIS, in a report in February, provides further insight into the interests and activities of the WIV in the months leading up to the pandemic.

In July 2019, the two scientists were escorted out of the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg amid an RCMP investigation and had their security clearances revoked. The couple was subsequently fired in January 2021 for undisclosed ties to Chinese regime entities and participation in the regime’s talent recruitment programs.

“In light of these concerns, please provide a briefing to the Committee on what the U.S. intelligence community knows about the CSIS report, and communications between the WIV scientists and Dr. Qiu and Mr. Cheng while they were at the National Microbiology Laboratory,” the letter stated, requesting a response by June 10, 2024.

Key Concerns

In a press release accompanying the letter, Ms. Rodgers and two subcommittee chairs expressed concerns about various aspects of the two scientists’ involvement with the Chinese regime.

“Of particular concern is that Dr. Qiu covertly and without authorization provided the Ebola genetic sequence, intellectual property related to research of Ebola, and possibly other pathogens to China,” the press release said.

According to CSIS information released in late February, Ms. Qiu acted as a liaison for a shipment of Ebola and Nipah virus strains from NML to the WIV in March 2019.

In addition, Ms. Qiu applied to participate in a “Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Advanced Customer Cultivation Project” with WIV. The project, scheduled from Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2021, aimed to develop mouse-adapted and guinea pig-adapted Ebola viruses (EBOV) for the study and production of mRNA vaccines.

In November 2018, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) approved the WIV’s request to ship Nipah and Ebola strains. Subsequently, in March 2019, the NML sent 15 different strains of these viruses to the Chinese lab.

The U.S. lawmakers also expressed concerns about Ms. Qiu and Mr. Cheng’s participation in the Chinese regime’s global talent recruitment programs, which CSIS has categorized as incentivizing economic espionage and intellectual property theft.

“CSIS found an application from her to one of China’s talent programs that said she would work for the WIV for at least two months every year. As part of her enrolment, CSIS said, Dr. Qiu committed to ‘building the People’s Republic of China’s biosecurity platform for new and potent infectious disease research,’” the press release stated.

It adds that Ms. Qiu likely received a position under the Thousand Talents Program, one of the most well-known Chinese talents recruitment programs, and that her position came through the WIV.

Citing CSIS, the U.S. lawmakers said Ms. Qiu had lied when confronted about her actions, making “blanket denials” and “half-truths, and personally benefited from the arrangement.”

Additionally, the U.S. lawmakers said PHAC found that Ms. Qiu had lied about an October 2018 trip to China, initially claiming it to be a personal vacation. However, she later acknowledged, after being presented with contradictory evidence, that the trip was paid for by the WIV and that she met the WIV’s director during the visit.

The two scientists have returned to China and are actively engaged in research work with various organizations, some of which have close links to the Chinese military, an investigation by The Epoch Times shows.