Last week, an illegal biolab run by the Chinese was discovered in California, raising suspicions and drawing criticisms against the FBI and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for their failure to pick up on the lab’s existence.
According to Fox News, the lab in Reedley, California was being run by 62-year-old Jia Bei Zhu, a Chinese citizen who is also a wanted fugitive from Canada.
Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) said that the discovery of the lab and its contents “reads like a movie script and a horror movie script.”
“We want to know how he was able to obtain these pathogens,” Hinson continued in an interview. “How is he able to get away with running a lab, getting millions of dollars sent to him from the Chinese Communist Party and then obviously coming into our country stealing American intellectual property?”
The House Select Committee on China announced last week that Zhu also had ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and had stolen millions of dollars in intellectual property as part of a transnational criminal enterprise that is linked to the CCP.
He was first arrested in October after a mere code violation over a green garden hose sticking out of a hole outside the lab. The subsequent investigation discovered thousands of vials full of biological substances, as well as mice being used for disease research.
Hinson raised the concern that more biolabs similar to the one in California could be operating throughout the United States, saying that “the FBI and the CDC really dropped the ball here in terms of investigating not only this illegal lab, but now we wonder how many more labs like this exist in the country.”
Both federal agencies were reportedly contacted about the matter by local law enforcement, but previously refused to investigate after the initial tips. The CDC only got involved after officials contacted Congressman Jim Costa (D-Calif.), who pressed the agency to investigate; this effort ultimately led to the discovery of “at least 20 potentially infectious agents” at the site, although there was “no evidence of select agents or toxins.”
The CDC disputed the Select Committee’s conclusion that the agency failed to act, declaring that the “CDC strongly disputes the report’s conclusions critical of the agency.”
“The report includes numerous inaccuracies, including both the charge that CDC did not respond to local requests for aid and the false implication that CDC had the authority to unilaterally investigate or seize samples from PBI’s Reedley building,” the statement continued. “Indeed, CDC has, and continues to be actively engaged, within its regulatory authorities, in the intergovernmental efforts to address issues surrounding the facility.”
The incident, and the CDC’s failure to respond in a timely manner, is reminiscent of the widespread criticisms in the early stages of the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic, where the agency initially refused to acknowledge the virus’ Chinese origins, then over-corrected its initial skepticism by demanding the entire country lock down and bring most operations to a grinding halt for an indefinite period of time.