The report, written by the Chemical and Biological Intelligence Unit of the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD), does not give the name of the Chinese scientist carrying the suspected SARS and MERS samples, or the intended recipient in the U.S. But the FBI concluded that the incident, and two other cases cited in the report, were part of an alarming pattern.


Whether in recent years or over many, there appears no end in relation to the breadth and depth of Chinese espionage in the United States. The cost to Americans: well into the billions of dollars.

Of immediate concern: could C19 (COVID-19) have escaped or even been ferried from the kind of lab that works with deadly pathogens?

According to a recent American Military News article (“Report: FBI warned of Chinese researchers transporting disease samples in US before coronavirus”, March 31, 2020 by Ryan Morgan), the FBI in 2018 had a least twice detained Chinese researchers transporting dangerous biological materials, and in 2019 U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents had stopped a Chinese researcher ferrying E.coli out of Detroit.

As Dr. Antilla proceeded with his academic career, United States officials changed their view of China’s recruitment programs, which they say have been used to steal sensitive technology from American laboratories.

In 2019, the Department of Energy barred its personnel from participating in recruitment programs from a handful of countries, including China. A few months later, a Senate committee declared China’s recruitment programs a threat to American interests.


Casually going somewhere with a load of infectious material or toxins in pockets? Well, it’s not the kind of thing staff would do, but spies?

BackChannels will not cover the waterfront on Chinese espionage in America. Walk in anywhere and the subject expands. From the recruitment of scholars through the Thousand Lights Program through serious computer hacking and human infiltration into every potentially strategic walk in America’s operations, civilian and defense, the threats posed by China’s theft of industrial, scientific, and state secrets looms large. Examples may be found in a few proper nouns easily searched up on the web —

Candace Marie Claiborne (CIA mole)
Charles M. Lieber (Alleged Concealment of Chinese Funding)
Honjin Tan (Energy Storage)
Jerry Chung Shing Lee (CIA mole)
Kevin Patrick Mallory (CIA mole)
Qingshan Li, Military Radio Equipment
Xudong Yao (Industrial Infrastructure)
Xueha Peng (State Secrets)
Xudong Yao (Industrial Infrastructure)
Yanqing Ye (Foreign Agent, Boston University, Physics, Chemistry, Biomedical Engineering)
Zaosong Zheng (Cancer Research)

Related Online

Much of the reference section has been lifted from a previous post — “Note: COVID-19, Biological Warfare, and the Odds and Ambiguities” (March 19, 2020), but a few cogent others have been added to this growing collection of tributes to the theft of industrial, scientific, and state secrets by the People’s Republic of China on the world’s Internet-connected international stage.

Of course, where would any state’s security — or international agenda — be without its spies?

The trade is a fact of life also worldwide.

Nonetheless, this from Reuters provides a glimpse at the lucrative and powerful payoffs so far enjoyed by China given perhaps allowances for its investments (and recruitment) through the Thousand Light programs as well as an apparent absence of sufficient resistance to being intellectually tapped for the nation’s most sensitive scientific secrets.

China’s efforts to steal unclassified American technology, ranging from military secrets to medical research, have long been thought to be extensive and aggressive, but U.S. officials only launched a broad effort to stop alleged Chinese espionage in the United States in 2018.

“The theft of American trade secrets by China costs our nation anywhere from $300 to $600 billion in a year,” Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in advance of Thursday’s conference.


Ackerman, Todd. “MD Anderson ousts 3 scientists over concerns about Chinese conflict of interest.” Houston Chronicle, April 20, 2019.

AP. “Trump Disbanded NSC Pandemic Unit That Experts Had Praised.” The New York Times, March 14, 2020.

Arms Control Association. “Biological Weapons Convention Signatories and States-Parties.” September 2018.

Bhadrakumar, M. K. “Covid-19 Has a Grandma, Grandpa and Great Grandpa. Where Are They?” Oriental Review, April 22, 2020.

Barry, Ellen and Gina Kolata. “China’s Lavish Funds Lured U.S. Scientists. What Did It Get in Return?” The New York Times, February 7, 2020.

Bender, Bryan and Megan Cassella. “Will Trump be able to get emergency medical supplies fast enough?” Politico, March 18, 2020.

BESA. “China and Viruses: The Case of Dr. Xiangguo Qiu.” January 29, 2020.

Bocchi, Alessandra. “China’s Coronavirus Diplomacy: Rome praises Beijing’s ‘solidarity’ in sending ventilators, face masks, doctors and nurses.” WSJ Opinion, March 20, 2020.

Center for Security Policy. “Wuhan Virus: China’s propaganda pandemic in an expanding timeline.” April 7, 2020. Note: see timeline entry for December 27, 2019.

Geraghty, Jim. “The Comprehensive Timeline of China’s COVID-19 Lies.” National Review, March 23, 2020.

Hosenball, Mark. “Top U.S. officials to spotlight Chinese spy operations, pursuit of American secrets.” Reuters, February 6, 2020.

Jaschik, Scott. “Chinese Med Student Charged with Stealing Research.” Inside Higher Ed, January 2, 2020.

Kolata, Gina. “Vast Dragnet Targets Theft of Biomedical Secrets for China.” The New York Times, November 4, 2019.

Lanese, Nicoletta. “Only one lab in China can safely handle the new coronavirus.” Live Science, January 22, 2020.

Lee, Bruce Y. “No, COVID-19 Coronavirus Was Not Bioengineered. Here’s The Research That Debunks That Idea.” Forbes, March 17, 2020.

Lopez, Clare. “Made in China.” Citizens Commission on National Security (CCNS), April 20, 2020.

Morgan, Ryan. “Report: FBI warned of Chinese researchers transporting disease samples in US before coronavirus.” American Military News, March 31, 2020.

Mulraney, Frances and Glenn Owen. “Revealed: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at center of coronavirus leak scrutiny that was performing experiments on bats from the caves where the disease is believed to have originated.” Daily Mail, April 12, 2020.

Nedelman, Michael. “Scientists with ties to China ousted from US cancer center amid fears of foreign influence.” CNN, April 25, 2019.

Oppenheim, James S. “Note: COVID-19, Biological Warfare, and the Odds and Ambiguities.” BackChannels, March 19, 2020.

Pauls, Karen. “Canadian government scientist under investigation trained staff at Level 4 lab in China.” CBC, October 3, 2019.

Qiu, Jane. “How China’s “Bat Woman” Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus.” Scientific American, March 11, 2020.

Shoham, Dany (Lt. Col. res.). “China and Viruses: The Case of Dr. Xiangguo Qiu.” The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, January 29, 2020.

The Conversation. “Why Singapore’s coronavirus response worked – and what we can all learn.” March 18, 2020.

Toosi, Nahal, Daniel Lippman, and Dan Diamond. “Before Trump’s inauguration, a warning: ‘The worst influenza pandemic since 1918’.” Politico, March 16, 2020.

Tsan-Yuk Lam, Tommy and Marcus Ho-Hin Shum, Hua-Chen Zhu, et al. “Identification of 2019-nCoV related coronavirus in Malayan pangolins in southern China.” bioRxiv, February 13, 2020. This technical paper points to the Pangolin as a potential intermediate conveyor of COVID-19 between bats and humans.

Vorndick, Wilson. “Weaponizing Biotech: How China’s Military is Preparing for a ‘New Domain of Warfare’.” Defense One, August 14, 2019.

Weinberger, Sharon, Jana Winter and Martin De Bourmont. “Suspected SARS virus and flu samples found in luggage: FBI report describes China’s ‘biosecurity risk’.” Yahoo News, March 30, 2020.

War is Boring. “Chinese ‘student’ studying in US is indicted for actually being a Chinese Army officer.” January 29, 2020.

Wikipedia. “Biosafety Level”.

Wikipedia. “Pangolin“.

Wikipedia. “Thousand Talents Plan”.

Wikipedia. “Wuhan Institute of Virology”.

World Health Organization. “Fact Sheet: Biosafety and Biosecurity.” PDF. March 20, 2018.

Yu, Gao, Peng Yanfeng, Yang Rui, et al. “How early signs of the coronavirus were spotted, spread and throttled in China.” The Straits Times, February 28, 2020.

Zaveri, Mihir. “Wary of Chinese Espionage, Houston Cancer Center Chose to Fire 3 Scientists.” The New York Times, April 22, 2019.

Poster Source: https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/counterintelligence/yanqing-ye | PDF Readable Location: https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/counterintelligence/yanqing-ye/@@download.pdf