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Lawmakers Call for Commerce, Treasury to Probe China’s WuXi AppTec

Four lawmakers are urging the Biden administration to consider placing Chinese biotech company WuXi AppTec and its subsidiaries on the Commerce Department’s Entity List, the Treasury Department’s Non-Specially Designated Nationals Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies List and the Defense Department’s Chinese Military Companies List. They said the firm has close ties to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and has been involved in perpetrating the CCP's human rights violations.

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Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the House Select Committee on China, and Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., made their recommendation in a Feb. 12 letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“Biotechnology is rapidly becoming a key component of our technological competition with the CCP and other U.S. adversaries,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is therefore important that the U.S. government use its licensing, sanctions and related tools to address the risks of any [Chinese] biotechnology company that threatens U.S. national security by carrying out human rights abuses or advancing PLA capabilities.”

The letter provides several examples, including WuXi AppTec operating a research laboratory that supports PLA military modernization; the company having a management committee staffed by Chinese military personnel and other party officials; WuXi AppTec receiving investment from "numerous" PLA investment funds; and the company operating genetic testing centers that allow the CCP to identify and separate Uyghur Muslims from other residents.

The letter said WuXi AppTec has obscured its ties to the PLA and CCP to integrate itself into U.S. supply chains, and that it has used Chinese export controls to force U.S. biotech companies to transfer sensitive intellectual property to the company.

The Commerce Department said in a statement that it “has received the letter and will reply through the appropriate channels.” The Treasury Department and DOD didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

While WuXi AppTec had no immediate response to the lawmakers’ allegations, it wrote in a Feb. 3 “open letter to our customers” that “unfounded and misleading claims” were circulating in the U.S. Congress. “We want to be clear and set the record straight: WuXi AppTec does not pose a national security risk to any country,” the company said.