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Dr. Xiangguo Qiu tasked in PRC “biological intelligence collection mission”

Posted By March 20, 2024 No Comments

Former U.S. State Department lead investigator says Dr. Qiu’s WIV collaborators systematically performing bat virus biosynthesis and “illicitly acquiring Ebola … to make it super contagious”


(Written by Sam Cooper, originally published here on The Bureau, republished with permission)

It was a few degrees above zero in Winnipeg on October 12, 2018 at 5:41 p.m.

Inside the National Microbiology Laboratory Dr. Xiangguo Qiu’s research partner, a senior Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) technician, walked towards the X-Ray gate.

The WIV technician was carrying ten vials capped with green lids from Dr. Qiu’s lab.

His specialty was bio-synthesis — manipulating genes in bat coronaviruses and injecting mice and Guinea pigs to create new more contagious strains of Ebola.

Walking with the WIV technician were three “restricted visitors” including Feihu Yan, a buzz-cut, sinewy, doctoral student from the Institute of Military Veterinary Medicine in Jilin, a northern area of China closer to Pyongyang than Beijing.

These Chinese students and the Wuhan technician tried to walk through the X-Ray gate with Dr. Qiu’s lab vials, but a security guard stopped them, saying the tubes could only leave Canada’s highest security infectious disease lab through shipping and receiving.

Dr. Qiu’s husband Keding Cheng, who also conducted research with the Institute of Military Veterinary Medicine, had buzzed these students into the Winnipeg Lab earlier.

About 6 p.m. he returned with his pass-card to let them out.

And another Chinese scientist returned the ten test tubes to Dr. Qiu’s lab-room, according to security camera footage.

It could be a scene from Contagion, the Hollywood thriller about scientists racing to save humanity from a highly contagious viral outbreak.

But in reality, Dr. Qiu and the Chinese researchers she injected into the Winnipeg Lab would more likely be scientific villains, covertly meddling with Ebola and bat-borne pathogens including Nipah, to benefit China’s biological weapon and vaccine production teams.

The Bureau has puzzled together available facts on Dr. Qiu’s intelligence network by comparing fragmented information in over 600 pages of redacted Canadian investigation and intelligence documents with academic, Chinese and U.S. government records, filling in the gaps by interviewing U.S. and Canadian investigators.

One of these experts, Dr. David Asher, led the U.S. State Department’s 2021 investigation into probable causes of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Asher, who has worked with the CIA and DEA tracking terrorists, spies and cartel kingpins, followed shadowy money trails into Wuhan and probed whether China has secretly breached international Biological Weapons Convention obligations.

Asher cannot discuss the high-level, classified intelligence his team used to reach their damning conclusions. But he can share his assessment, which is the same as the FBI’s and a growing number of Western intelligence agencies.

On a balance of probabilities, they believe available evidence suggests lab accidents and shoddy practices inside WIV likely triggered the Coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 15 million worldwide.

Perhaps more damaging to Justin Trudeau’s administration, Asher told The Bureau his State Department team had significant concerns that Beijing was using the Winnipeg Lab for People’s Liberation Army intelligence collection and bioweapon research projects.

“The WIV wasn’t just a government lab creating novel pathogens — it was and is a civil-military fusion hub that had a biological intelligence operational collection mission ensconced in its web of nefarious activities,” Asher said, including “illicitly acquiring Ebola and doing research on bio-synthesis of this massively deadly pathogen, to make it super contagious.”

Asher’s State Department teams also found that prior to the 2019 pandemic, Wuhan Institute researchers systematically experimented on bat coronaviruses with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology.

These are the same elite People’s Liberation Army bioweapon research units that Dr. Qiu and Keding Cheng were covertly working with on Ebola and synthetic bat coronavirus projects that started in January 2019 at the Wuhan Institute, CSIS records show.

A confidential Canadian intelligence source told The Bureau they agreed with Dr. Asher’s assessment, that Wuhan Institute of Virology was secretly conducting deadly research, and Dr. Xiangguo Qiu and her team in Winnipeg were directly involved.

This explosive information — much of which can now be documented after Trudeau’s government was forced to disclose redacted CSIS investigation files — puts the lie to the Prime Minister’s and Health Minister Mark Holland’s recent comments that minimized the seriousness of China’s clandestine operations inside National Microbiology Laboratory.

“At no time did national secrets, or information that threatened the security of Canada, leave or enter the lab,” Holland told reporters, while claiming that security breaches at National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) were limited to 2019.

On the contrary, analysis of partial disclosures from CSIS’s “Canadian Eyes Only” documents suggests the People’s Liberation Army’s most senior biological weapon research agents took significant control of Canada’s infectious disease and vaccine production systems from at least 2013, in operations coordinated from the highest levels in Beijing.

And this directly leads to several high-priority Chinese military biotechnology projects headed by Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, WIV deputy director Dr. SHI Zhengli and also the senior WIV technician who was caught trying to remove ten test tubes from NML in October 2018.

The Bureau’s analysis of redacted CSIS documents suggests Dr. Shi – the so-called “bat-woman” who collaborated in 2015 with controversial U.S. bat virus researchers – is referred to as “Individual 1” in the national security probe of Dr. Qiu and her husband, who were ejected from the Winnipeg Lab in the summer of 2019.

What was contained in the ten vials the WIV technician known as “Individual 2” tried to take from the Winnipeg Lab in October 2018 can’t be confirmed.

But China’s relentless efforts to appropriate Canada’s scientific capacity eventually succeeded.

In March 2019, Dr. Qiu and a second Winnipeg Lab scientist that had previously collaborated with Chinese military researchers on Ebola, sent Nipah and Ebola and mice and guinea-pig adapted viruses from the Winnipeg Lab to Wuhan Institute of Virology, redacted emails show.

The controversial conclusion that Wuhan Institute researchers including Dr. Shi Zhengli led dangerous gain-of-function (GofF) experiments in collaboration  with Dr. Qiu on various projects, and something went wrong in the Wuhan lab, infecting several scientists in fall 2019 with Covid-19 like symptoms, is not unanimous in declassified Western intelligence.

And during 2020 and 2021, speculation that lab accidents in Wuhan likely caused the Coronavirus pandemic was widely viewed as conspiracy theory and misinformation.

But the scientific plausibility of this theory is increasingly considered worthy of examination.

“The natural or accidental origin of SARS-CoV2 remains an unsolved conundrum,” says a 2023 paper by French microbiologist Patrick Berge called GoF and origins of Covid-19.

“But sooner or later, the truth will emerge.”

Dr. Qiu and her husband Dr. Cheng were ejected from the Winnipeg Lab in August 2019 and later faced CSIS and RCMP investigations.

They could not be reached by The Bureau for comment on this story. The Globe and Mail has reported that Dr. Qiu is currently working in China with military scientists. There is no explanation why RCMP national security charges haven’t resulted against Dr. Qiu and Dr. Cheng, given the seriousness of the intelligence allegations made by CSIS.

The Players

By comparing CSIS documents redacted in Canadian Parliamentary legal procedures with related scientific research papers and Chinese state documents, The Bureau can identify a tight circle of alleged co-conspirators and People’s Republic intelligence and bioweapon research entities including Chinese Academy of Sciences, Academy of Military Medical Sciences and Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology.

This exclusive investigation shows that CSIS probed a suspected Chinese military intelligence conspiracy involving  Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, Keding Cheng, Dr. Shi Zhengli, and senior Chinese officials involved in Ebola and Coronavirus research, the coronavirus pandemic response and Chinese vaccine production.

The players identified by CSIS include Major General CHEN Wei and CanSino Biologics, a People’s Liberation Army scientific unit that for inexplicable reasons, has been working with Canadian scientists since 2013, including on a botched Coronavirus vaccine collaboration.

Former Chinese Centre for Disease Control director George F. Gao, a suave, Oxford-educated virologist who was instrumental in China’s pandemic response, was also a longtime collaborator with Dr. Qiu’s network.

He is only identified as “Individual 24” in the redacted CSIS documents, The Bureau’s analysis suggests.

Another key player in CSIS’s probe was Wuhan Institute Director WANG Yanyi, a United States-educated researcher with significant leadership in China’s united front system, according to Chinese-language records.

Other Jilin-based actors identified in CSIS documents include former People’s Liberation Army General XIA Xianzhua and “Individual 17” – a shadowy researcher named YANG Songtao who has multiple identities according to CSIS.

According to the information that can be discerned from CSIS’s redacted documents, these people and their relationships to China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMS) are key to understanding how Dr. Qiu’s network exploited Canada’s scientific capacity to empower the People’s Liberation Army.

“Online information states AMMS is the highest medical research institution of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and has offensive Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW) capabilities,” the records say.

AMMS units develop military biotechnologies, and perform biological counter-terrorism and prevention and control of major diseases, the records add.

Redacted sentences blot out other known AMMS units and functions.

Even though sensitive information is redacted, scrutiny of these Canadian records leaves no doubt of a long-running conspiracy inside the Winnipeg Lab, according to CSIS.

And while Dr. Qiu and Dr. Cheng claimed innocence and lashed out at Canadian government investigations, citing Anti-Asian racism, they were witting collaborators enabling hardened Chinese military operators to run amok in the Winnipeg Lab.

Documents show in addition to their elite scientific capabilities, Qiu and Cheng operated like a classic spy facilitator team, covering up the involvement of China’s elite Jilin-based bioweapon research unit in Winnipeg.

And Qiu herself employed immigration fraud to embed a PLA operative in Winnipeg, while the couple was also suspected of involvement in mislabelling of biological materials sent to and received from China.

They also used Gmail accounts instead of government emails to avoid Access to Information scrutiny, enabled Chinese military researchers to access pass-code protected Canadian computer systems, and provided information to Chinese students on encrypted USB devices.

One of the more telling revelations from CSIS’s 2021 interrogation of Dr. Qiu was her fumbling admission that a postdoctoral student only known as “Restricted Visitor 1” appeared to have high-level friends in Beijing.

“Restricted Visitor 1” held a Chinese Public Affairs Passport, and landed in Winnipeg with a scholarship paid by the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, CSIS’s investigation found.

Another sign of her importance was she lived in the second home owned by Qiu and Cheng in Canada.

And her ties were not well hidden.

“Open source [records] depict Restricted Visitor 1 conducting laboratory work in PLA attire and indicate her mentor being,” Major General CHEN Wei, the People’s Liberation Army’s top virologist at Academy of Military Medical Sciences and Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, the redacted CSIS records indicate.

Restricted Visitor 1 also worked with Keding Cheng.

And according to CSIS, it beggars belief that Cheng and Qiu didn’t know who this woman was and the danger she posed.

“Given that [Restricted Visitor 1] was also a post-doctoral student of Mr. Cheng’s spouse, we therefore assess that Mr. Cheng was almost certainly aware of [her] association to a PLA institution whose research applications include boosting the PRC’s military capabilities, including biological weapons,” CSIS’s investigation documents say.

The Motive and Method

The documents say that in June 2018 Dr. Qiu applied for a “high end project” through Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Qiu started to exchange emails with Wuhan Institute of Virology officials on this project in the following months.

“Service information reveals that Chinese Academy of Sciences works closely with the PLA to acquire Western technologies,” CSIS’s redacted report says.

The report explains it was Wuhan Institute of Virology that secretly sponsored Qiu’s applications to be funded surreptitiously for work with the People’s Liberation Army, in a program targeted by the FBI called the Thousand Talents Plan, which extracts civilian research from Western nations for Chinese military use, by paying foreign scientists under-the-table.

Under interrogation Qiu finally admitted to holding a secret Chinese bank account and also being funded and travelling to China with support from CanSino Biologics, the PLA vaccine production arm.

CSIS’s investigation also found that WIV’s “Individual 2” worked directly with Dr. Qiu on her applications to the Thousand Talents plan from 2017 through 2018, and this application noted Qiu was “the only highly experienced Chinese expert available internationally, who is still fighting on the front lines in a P4 laboratory.”

The two Chinese Academy of Sciences “high-end” programs that Dr. Qiu was enlisted to lead alongside WIV’s vice-director Dr. Shi Zhengli were Ebola and synthetic bat filovirus projects.

According to CSIS, these types of programs were identified among the highest priority for General Secretary Xi Jinping and the People’s Liberation Army’s plans to be a world leader in biotechnology by 2025.

But the CSIS report reveals that Dr. Qiu started to work with her PLA intelligence collaborators as early as 2013, when the Jilin bioweapon research unit agent YANG Songtao — aka “Individual 17” — traveled to the Winnipeg Lab to collaborate with Qiu.

The Chinese documents uncovered by CSIS said that following this 2013 visit by Individual 17, “Qiu consulted with the leaders and experts of both China and Canada on matters related to cooperation, and provided the Chinese side with the Ebola genetic sequence, which opened a door of convenience for China.”

Next, around mid-2014, Qiu began working with “Individual 24” George F. Gao, and they published their first research paper together in 2015, records show.

By 2016 Dr. Qiu was working on Ebola biosynthesis with Major General CHEN Wei, among four Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology collaborators, records show.

One of the researchers from Winnipeg working with Qiu and these Chinese military operatives on Ebola in 2016, was involved in shipping mice and guinea pig adapted strains from Winnipeg to Wuhan in March 2019, redacted Canadian government emails show.

Notably, The Bureau’s research shows these same four Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology scientists including Major General CHEN Wei that collaborated with Dr. Qiu on Ebola research in 2016, are also listed as inventors for the coronavirus vaccine patent application filed in June 2020 by Academy of Military Medical Science, CanSino and the People’s Liberation Army.

Meanwhile in 2016, CSIS’s redacted records suggest, Academy of Military Medical Science leaders including Major General CHEN Wei nominated Dr. Qiu for an award noting she had “used Canada’s Level 4 Biosecurity Laboratory as a base to assist China to improve its capability to fight highly-pathogenic pathogens … and achieved brilliant results.”

The CSIS records go on to say that Dr. Qiu’s Thousand Talents application documents, which she worked on in 2017 and early 2018 with WIV’s Individual 2, noted Qiu was “very eager to promote the development of biosecurity industry in our country [China].”

The application documents also said Qiu had “deep cooperation relations” with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and had been a visiting professor at the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, since April 2016.

Meanwhile, CSIS discovered an email chain that showed in December 2017 and early January 2018, “Ms. QIU advised an incoming Chinese research student to apply for a visitor visa as opposed to a work permit in order to enter Canada.”

It is believed this is one of the People’s Liberation Army agents that CSIS suspects was involved in Qiu’s efforts to use the Winnipeg Lab for China’s intelligence collection and bioweapon research programs.

The CSIS report adds that the Wuhan Institute “animal infection” specialist “Individual 2” was hired by Health Canada in February 2018, and this “may have been the first researcher from the PRC to come to Canada that Ms. Qiu directly facilitated.”

In this same time period, from 2017 to 2020, CSIS also found that Keding Cheng was secretly using the Winnipeg Lab for work with “Individual 24” — believed to be George F. Gao — for “ad hoc research … on a type of virus and its antidote.”

Health Canada had no idea the Pathogen Level 4 Lab was being used in these projects by China.

But Dr. Cheng tried to explain away his efforts by claiming his secret projects didn’t advance “because China side couldn’t send the virus to start a solid collaboration,” redacted records show.

Despite his denials Canada ultimately concluded Dr. Cheng “willingly assisted Dr. QIU in collaborating with agencies of another country,” the records show.

Ebola and Coronavirus work in Wuhan

CSIS’s investigation found from June to July 2018 Dr. Qiu exchanged emails with senior WIV researchers including “Individual 1” — believed to be Dr. SHI Zhengli — on how to ship Ebola and Nipah virus strains from Winnipeg to Wuhan.

In emails Dr. Qiu falsely claimed that Canada didn’t own the Intellectual Property for the material and research that Wuhan sought from Winnipeg, so a formal transfer agreement wasn’t needed.

“Hope there is another way around,” Qiu emailed to Wuhan.

The CSIS records say that Chinese documentation for the planning and approval for the first secret WIV project involving Qiu and Ebola viruses said: “We are in the process of applying for the official permit to transfer BSL-4 pathogens from Canada to China.”

“To avoid confusing the leaders, it’s better not to let [Winnipeg’s] National Microbiology Laboratory know about this project … it’s not so necessary to have the opinion from National Microbiology Laboratory.”

For this first project, scheduled to start in January 2019, one “objective was to establish mouse-adapted and guinea pig-adapted Ebola viruses with the aim of rescuing both adapted viruses through reverse genetics for study [and] production of mRNA vaccines,” the redacted CSIS records say.

And in the second project on synthetic bat coronaviruses “Ms. Qiu was listed as being in charge of Overall Planning” for the WIV “animal infection” project that was to run from June 2019 to May 2021.

The WIV scientist only identified as “Individual 2” that Dr. Qiu brought into the Winnipeg Lab in February 2018, was listed as performing the “Animal Infection” work.

CSIS records suggest a compelling tie between Individual 2’s attempt to smuggle ten vials from Dr. Qiu’s lab in Winnipeg and events that followed.

The WIV technician was stopped by an X-ray attendant on October 12, 2018 and the vials he carried were returned to Qiu’s lab.

Just six days later, perhaps in response to the botched first effort, Wuhan Institute of Virology provided a Material Transfer Agreement for virus strains from the Winnipeg Lab.

And on October 19th Dr. Qiu travelled to Wuhan Institute of Virology.

There she met along with Dr. Shi Zhengli and several U.S. scientists involved with Dr. Shi in bat coronavirus research.

“In 2015, [WIV’s vice-director Dr. Shi] was involved in Gain of Function experiments with US researchers as part of a study that created a hybrid version of a bat coronavirus,” CSIS’s redacted report says, “one related to the virus that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which could jump directly from bats to humans.”

This 2015 study for the U.S. National Institutes of Health included “research that increased the virulence, ease of spread or host range of dangerous pathogens,” the CSIS report says.

The Canadian government documents reveal that Dr. Qiu also secretly provided training to about 30 people at WIV in October 2018, in a project she hid from Canada’s government.

Following this workshop, WIV’s director asked Dr. Qiu about providing materials to Wuhan, the CSIS report says.

And on October 31, 2018, Dr. Keding Cheng was caught for the second time in a Winnipeg Lab security breach, attempting to bypass the X-ray gate with two styrofoam containers.

It wasn’t until March 2019, after Dr. Qiu and others appeared to pressure Health Canada administrators with a barrage of emails, that China’s military got the mice and guinea pig adapted pathogens it wanted from Canada.

In apparent efforts to cut through any bureaucratic delays from other government departments Dr. Qiu exchanged emails asking Foreign Affairs Canada to sign off on a statement that said: “The Crown doesn’t regulate the Crown.”

Can you take off this affiliation

In June 2019, one month before the Chinese scientific couple lost their Winnipeg Lab security clearances, Dr. Qiu airbrushed an incriminating research paper from Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory written by herself and Academy of Military Medical Sciences collaborators including her “student” Feihu Yan.

“Can you take off this affiliation,” Qiu wrote in editing comments referring to the Jilin Institute of Military Veterinary, CSIS records show.

“The version of this paper submitted to the scientific journal Viruses on June 24, 2019 did not include a reference to AMMS,” the records say. “This was a direct attempt to disassociate herself and the student in her charge from an outside organization.”

Canadian investigators ultimately concluded that “QIU Xiangguo was deeply involved with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMS) in China, part of the People’s Liberation Army … through various research collaborations, award nominations and as a visiting professor at the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology.”

And yet to the end, in CSIS interrogations, Qiu denied any wrongdoing.

“Ms. QIU indicated that she had no more information on AMMS or any possible Chinese military connections … and routinely stated she didn’t consider her work could be used by foreign entities for nefarious purposes such as biological weapons development,” the redacted records say, “and stated that her collaborators were ‘probably doing the work to advance science for good. That’s all we think about as scientists.’”

Hong Kong Canadian community leader Fenella Sung said the Trudeau government’s success recently in blocking a Conservative Party motion to further investigate the Winnipeg Lab fiasco fits into a longstanding practice of obstruction on Chinese espionage.

“The Liberals, propped up by the NDP, are experts in fooling Canadians by playing with language,” Sung said. “They are determined to cover up the truth behind this case in Winnipeg, after stalling and blocking inquiries for three years, to the extent to taking the Parliamentary House Speaker to court.”

“They will pay a high political price for their action,” Sung predicted.