A new congressional report reveals that the federal government failed to detect an unlicensed bio lab in Reedley, California. The lab, which was operated by a Chinese citizen with ties to the Chinese government, stored numerous communicable diseases, including Malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, China’s coronavirus, and possibly Ebola.
The report, conducted by the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, also criticizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under President Joe Biden for ignoring pleas from local officials to inspect and contain the dangerous lab. It took the arrest of the lab’s illegal migrant leader in October, who had been selling fraudulent medical products to Americans, for the government to take action.
The bipartisan report, titled “The Reedley Report,” warns that there could be other unknown biolabs operating in the United States. It points out the lack of investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, CDC, FBI, and the Federal Trade Commission into this multi-agency failure. California’s state government also failed to notice the lab until a city inspector stumbled upon an improper water release.
The investigation into the lab was eventually taken up by the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, chaired by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and assisted by Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA). The report reveals that the lab was likely a cover for fraud and government-aided economic espionage by the Chinese citizen, Jiabei “Jesse” Zhu.
Zhu, who had previously faced legal trouble in Canada, operated under a false identity while in the United States. The report uncovers that he had set up a similar unlicensed facility in Fresno, California, before moving to Reedley. The CDC finally arrived at the lab in May 2023, six months after its initial discovery, finding at least 20 potentially infectious agents.
However, the report criticizes the CDC for refusing to test many additional containers, including some marked with an undeciphered code. The agency’s refusal to test the samples made it impossible for the Select Committee to assess the full extent of the risks posed by the lab. Local officials were eventually ordered to destroy all samples, identified or not, including a set marked as Ebola.
The bipartisan report concludes that the Reedley Biolab highlights the dangers of unlicensed and unknown biolabs in the United States. It raises concerns over the nation’s defense and regulations related to pathogens, emphasizing the need for Congress and the Executive Branch to address these vulnerabilities promptly before they are exploited in the future.