In a startling revelation, the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, chaired by Mike Gallagher (R-WI), disclosed findings from its investigation into an illegal biolab in Reedley, CA, linked to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The investigation was catalyzed by a lack of response from the CDC following the lab’s discovery in 2022, leading to a bipartisan subpoena. Key participants in the investigation included Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Reedley city officials Jesalyn Harper and Nicole Zieba, according to reports.
Remarkably, it appears that the U.S. government was unaware of the existence of the Reedley lab until its accidental discovery by Reedley, California’s Jesalyn Harper, a vigilant local city code enforcement officer and the sole full-time official in that role within the city of Reedley.
The committee’s report exposed unsettling details about the lab, operated by a PRC citizen, Jia Bei Zhu, a fugitive from Canada with a significant judgment against him for stealing American intellectual property. Zhu, with connections to the PRC’s military-civil fusion entities, oversaw operations that received substantial funding from PRC banks. The lab stored numerous potential pathogens, including HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, Covid, and materials labeled “Ebola,” in addition to nearly a thousand transgenic mice engineered for COVID-19 research.
Further complicating the situation, it was revealed that the lab received a $360,000 tax credit from Governor Gavin Newsom’s ‘GO-Biz’ program. This funding raises questions about the state’s role and awareness of the lab’s activities, which included handling over 800 chemicals and 20 infectious agents.
The lab, discovered in an old Reedley warehouse, led to the arrest of Zhu for manufacturing and distributing misbranded medical devices and making false statements to federal agencies. The case highlighted the challenges in regulating private medical labs and transporting infectious diseases, underscoring a need for clearer coordination among federal agencies. Local officials, including Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba, played a crucial role in uncovering and addressing this complex issue.
The Reedley biolab case illustrates the intricate challenges at the intersection of national security, public health, and international relations. It underscores the need for vigilant oversight and coordination among various levels of government to safeguard against such illicit operations. The involvement of state funding in supporting this lab adds another layer of complexity, calling for a thorough examination of funding sources and their vetting processes.
As investigations continue, this incident serves as a stark reminder of the potential risks and ramifications of unchecked scientific research and international collaborations.
The South Pasadenan is awaiting comment on this issue from Biolabs in the area.