Scientists fired from Winnipeg Infectious disease lab were working to benefit China: CSIS reports

Fired scientist Dr. Xiangguo Qui: Photo courtesy: X/@bobconfer

Winnipeg/CMEDIA: A scientist couple from Winnipeg was fired from Canada’s top infectious disease lab as he was working to benefit China, a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) assessment says.

Working in the Level 4 virology facility at the Winnipeg-based National Microbiology Lab, equipped to deal with the most serious and deadly human and animal diseases, Dr. Xiangguo Qui and her husband Keding Cheng were fired from the facility in July 2019 and were stripped of their security clearances.

One of the scientists fired from Canada’s top infectious disease laboratory “intentionally” shared scientific information with China — potentially putting people’s health in jeopardy — says an assessment by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service

— Bob Confer (@bobconfer) February 29, 2024

Three former senior judges having the final say on public disclosure of the newly disclosed partially redacted documents.

Opposition parties hoped the documents would shed light on why their dismissals was announced in January 2021, triggering concerns about Chinese espionage.

Qiu was using the lab “as a base to assist China to improve its capability to fight highly-pathogenic pathogens” and “achieved brilliant results,”according to the documents released yesterday.

The agency said that during interviewing her, she “repeatedly lied” when confronted about her association with China and her involvement in various Chinese programs, even when she was presented with the evidence.

Those programs are set up to “boost China’s national technological capabilities and may pose a serious threat to research institutions, including government research facilities, by incentivizing economic espionage and theft of intellectual property,” CSIS report said.

The released documents showed that Qiu provided Beijing “with the Ebola genetic sequence, which opened a door of convenience for China,” wrote CSIS.

Qiu was accused by CSIS of being associated with multiple “talent programs” administered and funded by various Chinese entities, calling her “reckless judgement regarding decisions that could have impacted public safety and the interests of Canada.”

In a statement, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre accused the Liberal government of allowing the Chinese government and its entities to infiltrate Canada’s top-level lab.

“This is a massive national security failure by Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government, which he fought tooth and nail to cover up.”

Although Canada’s Health Minister Mark Holland acknowledged the documents reveal a “lax adherence to security protocols.” he insisted that at no time did national secrets or information that threatened the security of Canada leave the lab.

“I think that there was an inadequate understanding of the threat of foreign interference…an earnest effort was made to adhere to those policies, but not with the rigour that was required,”he told reporters.