A House committee recently demanded a California city hand over documents related to the discovery of an illegal China-linked biolab housing infectious agents, according to a committee spokesperson.
The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) issued a subpoena to the City of Reedley, California, last week, requesting documents and records related to the city’s investigation into the “unlicensed” laboratory operated by Prestige Biotech Inc. (PBI), the successor of defunct Universal Meditech Inc. (UMI), a committee spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation, confirming Politico’s report. In mid-June, officials from Fresno County began removing medical waste from the Reedley laboratory after inspectors discovered at least 20 potentially infectious agents, such as Malaria and Dengue virus, on the property, according to Fresno County court records. (RELATED: Illegal Biolab Discovered In California Tied To Chinese Medical Firms)
“The review of the evidence thus far has identified troubling gaps in safeguards that allowed the clandestine facility to operate with impunity, as well as serious deficiencies in the federal government’s response,” a person close to the committee said after Reedley handed over documents, photographs and video, according to Politico.
PBI and UMI have operated an “unlicensed and unregulated” lab in Reedley since October 2022, court documents show.
Beginning in December 2022, officials attempted to make contact with the lab workers, but were unsuccessful until March 2023, when an official observed a garden hose illegally attached to the building as well as other code violations and ordered for the site to be inspected, according to court records.
Officials then began a series of on-site inspections and conducted an abatement process between April and June, during which they discovered “unsafe and unsanitary conditions” as well as mice genetically engineered to catch and carry COVID-19, court records state.
Officials also discovered improperly stored blood, bodily fluids, human and animal tissue as well as at least 20 infectious agents including E. coli, tuberculosis, streptococcus, hepatitis, HIV and Rubella, according to court records.The DCNF subsequently reported that certain PBI and UMI executives appear to share the same names and addresses with one of the lab’s pharmaceutical suppliers located at a CCP-backed industrial park in Qingdao, China.
The Qingdao High-Tech Industrial Park, where the lab’s pharmaceutical suppliers are located, is run by Li Tianchuan, a CCP member, according to the Chinese government.
The DCNF found business filings on Chinese website Qixin.com showing that UMI’s CEO and PBI’s managing member, Wang Zhaoyan, has the same name as the executive director of Ai De Biopharmaceutical in Qingdao. Likewise, PBI’s president, Yao Xiuqin, shares the same name with Ai De Biopharmaceutical’s supervisor, filings on Qixin.com reveal.
Furthermore, the DCNF reported that the address for PBI’s president Yao Xiuqin that PBI’s representative, David He, gave to investigators closely resembles the address for Ai De Diagnostic Co. Ltd in Qingdao.
Court documents reveal that Joe Prado, Fresno County Public Health Department assistant director, wrote to He in June 2023, claiming that the addresses He had provided for the lab’s “authorized agents” were “either empty offices or addresses in China that could not be verified.”
The DCNF also identified a series of shipments that Ai De Biopharmaceutical, Ai De Diagnostic and Qingdao Guangdi Packaging Material Co. Ltd. — which also shares the same Qingdao address — sent to UMI and PBI between 2016 and 2023.
Reedley did not respond immediately to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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