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New China committee report raises questions about California lab

As President Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, the House select committee examining the United States’ relationship with China is set to release a new report in the afternoon detailing the results of its latest investigation.

The report sharply criticizes the U.S. government as well as China’s — and it raises more questions than it provides answers.

The report details the committee’s investigation into a Chinese-owned medical lab discovered by a local code enforcement officer in December in Reedley, Calif. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who represents a neighboring congressional district, said he would raise the matter with the committee this summer when he was still speaker.

The committee issued its first subpoena in September as part of its investigation into the lab.

The lab was owned by a Chinese citizen named Jiabei “Jesse” Zhu, a “fugitive [who] had previously stolen millions of dollars of intellectual property from American companies and was part of an ongoing transnational criminal enterprise with ties to [China] for which he was ultimately charged in federal court,” according to the committee’s report. Federal agents arrested him last month.

The investigation found that Zhu received “unexplained wealth in the form of large payments via wire transfer from” Chinese banks, according to the report. But the committee didn’t turn up evidence that Zhu had direct ties to the Chinese government.

Instead, the report criticizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s response to local officials’ concerns about the lab and urges Congress to pass legislation to address “the profound threat that unlicensed, unregistered, and wholly unknown illegal biolabs pose to everyday Americans.”

House Republicans proposed creating a committee to examine the Chinese Communist Party after they retook the majority last year, but most House Democrats backed setting it up, too. The committee has worked in relatively bipartisan fashion, although some Democrats have criticized its rhetoric.

The committee is also investigating the venture capital industry’s investment in China. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), the committee’s chairman, said he hoped the findings would inform legislation that would restrict outbound capital flows to China.

Also on the committee’s agenda: a potential trip to China.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a committee member, has been the leading proponent of such a trip, which would follow the trip led by Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) last month.

“I’m hopeful that it will come together,” Khanna said. “I obviously want it to be bipartisan. I want to make sure that the Armed Services Committee and the China committee and the speaker are on board with it. I don’t want to do anything outside the normal process, given the sensitivities.”

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (Ill.), the top Democrat on the committee, said in an interview that he was open to it but would want to make sure committee members weren’t “used as props.”

“My concern … is that it would just be like two days of getting lectured to by wolf warrior diplomats in nondescript office buildings,” Gallagher said.

“But I’m not ruling it out,” he added.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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