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Chinese general collaborated with fired scientist at Canada’s top virus lab

A high-ranking general in the People's Liberation Army collaborated on research alongside fired scientist Xiangguo Qiu from Canada’s high-security infectious disease laboratory in Winnipeg.

Angelo Isidorou Vancouver British Columbia

A high-ranking general in the People's Liberation Army collaborated on research alongside fired scientist Xiangguo Qiu from Canada’s high-security infectious disease laboratory in Winnipeg. Two researchers, including Qiu, had their security clearances revoked at the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) after sending samples of Ebola and Henipavirus to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)

The Globe and Mail reports that Major-General Chen Wei is revered by President Xi Jinping for developing a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine. She is also revealed to have worked alongside Canadian government lab scientist Xiangguo Qiu, who was mysteriously fired.

The Chinese Communist general and scientist collaborated on two scientific papers on Ebola in 2016 and 2020.

Notably, the scientific papers do not identify Chen Wei as an available and top-ranking epidemiologist in China. Instead, the documents only mention her Ph.D. and previous work at the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. The Globe confirmed both were the same person.

Author Elaine Dewar first reported the links between Dr. Qiu and Maj.-Gen. Chen, in her recent book, On the Origin of the Deadliest Pandemic in 100 Years: An investigation.

Asked if the Public Health Agency of Canada deemed it standard practice for its personnel to work alongside high-ranking Chinese military, PHAC spokesperson Anne Genier writes, "While the NML does not have institutional agreements with the Chinese military, Canada’s scientists have collaborated with Chinese scientists to contribute to the global public health fight against deadly diseases, such as Ebola."

"These collaborations have yielded vaccine and treatment candidates for diseases, as documented in peer-reviewed journals," reads her statement.

Last week, PHAC would not comment whether Maj.-Gen. Chen visited the Winnipeg lab, a Level 4 facility equipped to handle the world’s deadliest diseases. The Health Agency said it would not release visitor records citing privacy laws.

"However, all visitors including researchers collaborating with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) must adhere to Government of Canada and PHAC security protocols, procedures and policies and must be escorted by an employee with a Secret clearance at all times," confirmed Health Department spokesperson Mark Johnson.

Due to the ongoing RCMP investigation, CSIS did not comment on the matter.

Dr. Qiu and her husband, Keding Chang, were fired from their positions at the NML this January.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau told the Special Committee on Canada-China relations that the Trudeau Liberals "have a responsibility as a government to ensure we don’t jeopardize certain information that touches on privacy, that touches on commercial privacy, and that also touches on possible security implications."

The couple and an unknown number of Dr. Qiu’s students had their security clearances revoked in July, 2019, and were escorted from the facility.

Canada's Conservative leaders demanded action in August amid recent additions to the September 2020 Origins of COVID-19 report, which outlined a potential cover-up at the WIV as the source of the outbreak.

"Let’s talk about that," said Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, who pointed out Qiu sent 30 vials of 15 different strains of Ebola and Henipavirus to Wuhan, China — where the COVID-19 pandemic originated.

In 2018, the scientists started bringing students with "deep connections to the Chinese military" from China to do work on this virus research. In 2019, they sent dangerous virus samples to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

"We know from public records, like patent documents, that the work being done by these scientists specifically was on ‘gain of function’ for viruses. That’s where they’re actually trying to improve the efficacy of a virus, its transmissibility, and in some cases, in bioweapons research, its deadliness," said O’Toole.

He questioned who provided the two scientists with authority to transfer dangerous, deadly viruses. "Who authorized this high level of cooperation and collaboration with the Chinese military?"

The origins report also analyzed how scientific papers written by researchers at the WIV not only proved the WIV was doing dangerous genetic modification research on coronaviruses at unsafe biosafety levels but also that WIV researchers could genetically modify coronaviruses as early as 2016 without leaving any trace of that modification.

The report also claimed that gain-of-function research occurred at the WIV and that it was done in unsafe conditions. He cited statements from the head of the Chinese CDC and the director of the WIV’s BSL-4 lab, who publicly expressed concerns about safety at PRC labs in the summer of 2019.

There were multiple requests for maintenance at the WIV, including in their new facility operational for less than two years. Some of those requests included maintenance on "environmental air disinfection system” and "hazardous waste treatment system," – which would indicate concerns about how these systems meant to prevent lab leaks were functioning.

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