China, in first, skipped annual bioweapons meeting with U.S. last year

FPI / April 28, 2021

Amid mounting concerns over its secret biological weapons program, China balked at an online meeting with American officials last year in a possible violation of an international treaty, according to a new report.

A medical worker disinfectants herself at a testing lab of KingMed Diagnostics Group Co., Ltd. in Shijiazhuang in northern China’s Hebei Province. / Mu Yu / Xinhua via AP

Citing unspecified technical problems, China failed to show for the virtual meeting with U.S. State Department arms control officials, according to an account published this month in the State Department’s annual report on compliance with arms agreements.

“The United States has compliance concerns with respect to Chinese military medical institutions’ toxin research and development because of the dual-use applications and their potential as a biological threat,” the report states.

The communist government’s failure to show for the virtual meeting marked “the first time in four years that Beijing refused to meet with U.S. officials to discuss suspected Chinese violations of the 1975 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, known as the BWC, fueling concerns that Beijing is working on weapons that kill with microbes or toxins,” security correspondent Bill Gertz noted in an April 25 report for the Washington Times.

The State Department’s report also contains a slight but significant change in wording from last year’s report, suggesting U.S. intelligence agencies have answered earlier-raised questions about China’s covert biological warfare programs.

The 2020 report said China had engaged in activities with potential military applications. The 2021 report omits the word “potential,” indicating that the finding is based on new intelligence regarding the research.

Gertz noted that a possible source for the new information is a People’s Liberation Army doctor who defected to a European nation last year with details on Beijing’s biowarfare program.

China’s cancellation of the biological warfare meeting was revealed as the COVID-19 pandemic raised new questions about whether the virus behind the disease leaked from a Wuhan laboratory linked to secret Chinese military research.

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