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Lawmakers Urge DOD to Consider Listing 7 Firms as Chinese Military Companies

Leaders of the House Select Committee on China announced April 1 that they have asked the Pentagon to consider adding seven “problematic” biotechnology entities to its 1260H List of Chinese military companies.

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Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., the committee’s chairman and ranking member, respectively, said that four of the firms -- Complete Genomics, Innomics, MGI Group and STOmics -- are subsidiaries of BGI, which is already on the 1260H list. A fifth entity, Axbio, has “repeatedly engaged” with BGI. The other firms are Origincell and Vazyme Biotech.

In a March 29 letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi noted that Section 1312 of the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires DOD to place Chinese companies on the 1260H list if they aid in China’s military biotech research. The lawmakers want DOD to brief House Select Committee staff by May 1 on its plan to implement Section 1312. Congress passed the FY 2024 NDAA in December 2023 (see 2312070054).

With China seeking to achieve biotechnology dominance to enhance its military capabilities, "urgent action is needed to identify the [Chinese] biotechnology entities at the forefront of this work," the lawmakers wrote.

A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on the letter, saying in a statement that DOD “provides responses directly to members of Congress in matters of this kind. We have no additional information or further details to release at this time.”

Complete Genomics said in a statement that the lawmakers' letter contains a "fundamental falsehood" about the firm's ownership. "Complete Genomics is a U.S.-founded company, headquartered in San Jose," the statement says. "It is a subsidiary of MGI, which is an independent, publicly traded global company. The Select Committee’s statement about BGI’s relationship to MGI is false."

Complete Genomics also said that the lawmakers' proposal would reduce competition for genetic sequencers in the U.S.