A black market Chinese biolab located in Reedley, California, received over $1.3 million in unexplained payments from banks in China, according to a House Committee report. The lab, situated approximately 25 miles southeast of Fresno, has raised significant concerns due to the presence of thousands of vials containing potentially deadly infectious agents, including HIV and Ebola.
Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R–Calif.) and Rep. Jim Costa (D–Calif.) expressed their concerns during a press conference with local officials and the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. The lab came to light in December 2022 when a city code enforcement officer noticed a green garden hose protruding from a seemingly vacant warehouse.
The House Committee’s 42-page report criticized federal agencies, particularly the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for not fully investigating the lab or assisting in the disposal of hazardous substances. Local officials reported difficulty obtaining assistance from the CDC, with alleged instances of the CDC refusing to speak with them and hanging up on them during conversations.
The lab was discovered to contain blood and tissue samples, unlabeled vials, and biological material, prompting concerns about possible pathogens. Despite repeated requests by local and state officials, the CDC did not conduct tests on the materials, raising questions about potential dangers to the community.
The House Committee report highlighted connections between the biolab owner, Jia Bei “Jesse” Zhu, and the Chinese Communist Party. Zhu, who held a top position in a state-controlled company in China with ties to military-civil fusion activities, received over $1.3 million in unexplained payments from People’s Republic of China (PRC) banks. The report suggested that the total amount received by Zhu may be higher.
Zhu, arrested in October, faces charges related to manufacturing and distributing misbranded medical devices and making false statements to the FDA. He is also a wanted fugitive in Canada with a $242 million judgment against him for stealing intellectual property.
The House Committee’s investigation concluded that the Reedley Biolab poses a significant threat, revealing gaps in the nation’s defenses and pathogen-related regulations, creating a grave national security risk that could be exploited in the future. The report called for increased scrutiny and measures to address the risks associated with unlicensed and unknown biolabs in the country.