How China gained full access to the U.S. Biodefense Center at Fort Detrick.
Guest post by Lawrence Sellin
In an appalling and historic act of national security malfeasance, U.S. government officials formulated policies, which allowed China to “colonize” every component of America’s research and development program, including the military.
As most bad ideas have, it all began under the Clinton Administration.
Starting In 1996, Clinton officials invited scientists from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into U.S. Army laboratories, the following being examples.
Chunyuan Luo, quite literally, went from working at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing, an element of China’s chemical warfare program, directly to Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, from where he conducted a ten-year research collaboration with the US Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
After leaving Walter Reed in 2012, Chunyuan Luo became a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with potential access to all U.S. patents related to biological and chemical warfare defense. He also appears on a talent database, which some consider as an indication of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) interest or friendship.
Despite lying about his nationality being Canadian, Chunsheng Xiang was, nevertheless, assigned to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), where he studied the highly pathogenic and potential biological warfare agent, the Ebola virus. He is now a professor at Zhejiang University in China and well-connected to the higher echelons of the CCP and the PLA.
Shockingly, one of the Chinese scientists brought to the U.S. under Clinton’s program is shown wearing a U.S. Army uniform, while studying advanced laser technologies at The US Army Medical Research Detachment in San Antonio, Texas.
By far, the most important factor facilitating China’s infiltration of U.S. research and development programs has been the legal immigration process, which the CCP has exploited.
Unlike the massive invasion of the United States by mostly poor illegal aliens across our southern border, China has been sending highly-skilled professionals to the United States, who obtain key positions in business and academia.
The formula has remained the same for 40 years.
A young scientist from the People’s Republic of China would complete a Ph.D. or postdoctoral training in the United States, then be hired by a U.S. university or research center, eventually applying for U.S. citizenship.
That Chinese scientist working in the U.S. would then establish extensive research collaborations with scientists in the People’s Republic of China and become an “anchor” for additional waves of young Communist Chinese scientists to be trained in the U.S., some taking American knowledge, skills and technologies back to China, while others also becoming U.S. citizens.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
In addition to Clinton’s program of placing PLA scientists directly into U.S. military research centers, Chinese scientists are often “sanitized” through civilian institutions in the U.S. before gaining access to military facilities.
The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, which is inside Fort Detrick, was initially the “soft underbelly” by which Chinese scientists gained access to USAMRIID.
Case in point, because the examples are too numerous to document here, is a 2007 scientific publication about the coronavirus from the first SARS pandemic in 2002-2004, entitled “Potent cross-reactive neutralization of SARS coronavirus isolates by human monoclonal antibodies.”
It authors represent a collaboration of scientists from the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, the Virology Division of USAMRIID and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID).
The individual authors are interesting as well.
What one notices first about the publication histories of the two China-trained Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research scientists, Zhongyu Zhu and Xiaodong Xiao, is that their work has dealt less with cancer than with viruses, many of which are highly dangerous pathogens also studied by China’s biowarfare program.
Another author is PLA-trained scientist Shibo Jiang.
Before returning to China as a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, Shibo Jiang had been employed by the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute of the New York Blood Center for nearly twenty years.
During that time, he developed an extensive network of collaborative research with other major U.S. virus research laboratories and received more than $17 million in U.S. research grants, the vast majority coming from Fauci’s NIAID.
At the same time, Shibo Jiang maintained extensive collaborative research with PLA laboratories, described in detail here, while simultaneously inviting into his U.S. laboratory and training scientists linked to the Chinese military, such as Yuxian He, another author on the cited 2007 publication.
One China-trained scientist, Xiankun “Kevin” Zeng, used that pathway, first studying fruit flies at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research through, and then becoming a permanent employee of USAMRIID, where he has access to the U.S. military’s most sensitive information about biowarfare defense.
Xiankun Zeng obtained his Ph.D. degree at the Key Laboratory of Developmental Genes and Human Disease, Ministry of Education, Institute of Life Science, Southeast University, in Nanjing.
That laboratory has close collaboration with the Nanjing Military Command, now part of the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command.
As recently as October 2015, Xiankun Zeng was still claiming affiliation with Southeast University in Nanjing.
Even while employed by USAMRIID, Xiankun Zeng has maintained close ties to China’s virus research programs, shown in this photo giving a lecture about the deadly Ebola and Marburg viruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology on October 9, 2018.
Xiankun Zeng was brought into USAMRIID in 2015 by another Chinese scientist, Mei Guo Sun, who sponsored him as a National Research Council/U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Research Associate after earlier working together at Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Mei Guo Sun is now the U.S. Army Portfolio Manager for Neurosensory research in the Military Operational Medicine Research Program.
The consolidation of all U.S. military and civilian biodefense programs at Fort Detrick in the last ten years has made it easier for China-trained scientists to gain entry.
The National Interagency Biodefense Campus is a facility at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. Its umbrella organization is the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research (NICBR), a biotechnology and biodefense partnership and collaborative environment of eight U.S. Federal government agencies:
- U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), DoD
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), DHHS
- National Cancer Institute (NCI), DHHS
- Agricultural Research Service, USDA
- DHS Science and Technology Directorate, DHS
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), DHHS
- Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC), DoD
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), DHHS
The two major biodefense research centers at Fort Detrick are USAMRIID and the more recently-established civilian component, the NIH’s Integrated Research Facility, which is part of the Division of Clinical Research of Fauci’s NIAID.
The mission of the NICBR is to manage, coordinate, and facilitate the conduct of research on some of the most dangerous emerging infectious disease and biodefense pathogens to develop medical countermeasures and improved medical outcomes.
The very nature of Fort Detrick’s now large, multi-agency, joint civilian-military program, a significant portion of which is administered by outside contractors with a minimal emphasis on national security, makes it vulnerable to potential infiltration.
In November 2007, the Battelle Memorial Institute won a $257 million, 10-year contract to run a future NIH biological defense laboratory at Fort Detrick, the one which would be eventually known as the NIH’s Integrated Research Facility.
Battelle also won a $250 million, five-year contract to run a Department of Homeland Security laboratory at Fort Detrick. That contract had five optional one-year extensions for a total potential value of $500 million.
At the time, Battelle said it would provide up to 119 scientists and technicians to staff the High Containment Integrated Research Facility planned by Fauci’s NIAID and 120 people for the Department of Homeland Security’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center.
According to Battelle, the subcontractors would include the Midwest Research Institute, Loveless Respiratory Research Institute, Charles River Laboratories, Tunnell Consulting and the Washington Technology Group.
It is important to note, that press releases and acknowledgements in scientific publications have repeatedly and, perhaps intentionally, misspelled “Loveless,” which is actually the occasionally controversial Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute.
Many Chinese scientists gained access to Fort Detrick after being hired by contractors and subcontractors of the NIH’s Integrated Research Facility.
Yu “Lucy” Cong has worked for the NIH’s Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick since 2012, first for the Battelle Memorial Institute and more recently for Laulima Government Solutions, both of whom are NIH contractors.
Yu “Lucy” Cong received her M.D. degree from Jinzhou Medical University and a Master’s Degree in immunology from Peking Union Medical College in Beijing. Between 1995 and 2003, she worked in the Division of Viral Hepatitis, Institute for Viral Disease Control & Prevention at China’s Center for Disease Control.
Her mentor and research collaborator at China’s Center for Disease Control was Wenjie Tan, whose other affiliation is the Central Theater Command’s People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Wuhan, as well as being a co-author on a recent (2018) publication about the deadly MERS coronavirus with PLA scientists Guangyu Zhao and Yusen Zhou.
As a scientist with the Fort Detrick consolidated Biodefense research program, Yu Cong also published a scientific article about MERS coronavirus in 2018.
Other Chinese scientists who work for contractors within the NIH’s Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick and have conducted research on the world’s most dangerous viruses include: Yingyun Cai, Shuiqing Yu and Huanying Zhou.
In addition to Xiankun “Kevin” Zeng and Mei Guo Sun, other Chinese scientists who have been working on highly pathogenic viruses at USAMRIID are Jun Liu, Xiaoli Chi, Lian Dong and Chih-Yuan Chiang.
It is yet to be fully determined the extent to which Chinese scientists employed at the National Interagency Biodefense Campus at Fort Detrick have links back to China’s military.
The time is long past to do so.
Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. He had a civilian career in international business and medical research. Dr. Sellin is the author of Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution. His email address is [email protected].