Congress, Amid Fears of Biowarfare, Weighs a Bill To Bar Communist China From Acquiring DNA of Americans

Congress sounds the alarm over the potential manipulation of genetic data of Americans by the People’s Republic of China.

AP/Andy Wong, file
An American flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem at the Great Hall of the People at Beijing, November 9, 2017. AP/Andy Wong, file

A bill proposed by the chairman of the House Select Committee on China, reflecting growing concerns about potential biowarfare by Communist China against America, could halt government contracts with adversarial biotechnology companies.

As the Senate and the House negotiate the final text of the annual defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, Congressman Mike Gallagher has proposed an amendment to ban America from contracting with China’s largest genomics company, Beijing Genomics Institute.

“The CCP will undoubtedly use the genetic data collected by BGI to further its malign aggression, potentially even to develop a bioweapon used to target the American people,” Mr. Gallagher tells the Sun. “The good news is that Congress can do something about it.” His provision would block the purchase of biotechnology equipment or services from other U.S. adversaries, including North Korea, Russia, and Iran.

This plea joins the alarm bells sounded by the intelligence community over the People’s Republic’s potential manipulation of Americans’ genetic data. They have been warning for years of President Xi’s national strategy of military-civil fusion, spearheaded by the People’s Liberation Army, as it seeks military applications for biology as well as brain science, supercomputing, and artificial intelligence.

The Shenzhen-based Institute “collects genetic data on people all over the world, including that of pregnant women, and uses it for research with the Chinese military,” Mr. Gallagher says. He is working with Senator Hagerty to prohibit the American government and its contractors from acquiring the genetic sequencing equipment of BGI, which is required by law to share its data with the Communist regime. 

“Let’s stop paying Beijing to steal our gene code,” a senior policy adviser at a conservative think tank, rhe Heritage Foundation, Bryan Burack, declared in a recent op-ed. “A procurement ban should have been implemented long ago,” he argued, “because BGI poses a potentially enormous national security threat.”

The Pentagon has described BGI as among the “Chinese military companies” operating in America and added it to the U.S. government’s list of blacklisted companies in October. Mr. Gallagher and Senator Cotton urged the government to do this two years earlier, warning that “the United States must not turn a blind eye to the threat posed by Chinese biotechnology companies operating at the CCP’s behest.”

The People’s Republic has pledged to become a global leader in precision medicine, which involves analyzing an individual’s genetics to personalize treatment. Under this mission, the People’s Republic of China announced a $9 billion, 15-year project in 2016 to collect, analyze, and sequence genomic data. By August 2020, BGI reported it had sold test kits to 180 countries and established labs in 18 countries during the pandemic.

 “The PRC likely possesses capabilities relevant to chemical and biological warfare,” a 2023 Department of Defense report asserts, “that pose a threat to U.S., Allied, and partner forces, military operations, and civilian populations.” The department warns that this rising global power “is the only competitor to the United States with the intent and, increasingly, the capacity to reshape the international order.”

Mr. Gallagher is calling for a bipartisan push to stop federal agencies from working with companies that operate as puppets of the Chinese military. The majority of Americans, after all, agree that the People’s Republic poses a serious threat to America. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress to protect Americans’ sensitive health information and include this critical provision in the final bill,” he says.

The New York Sun

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