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China gene firm providing worldwide COVID tests worked with Chinese military

BGI said it uses Tianhe-2 on a commercial basis, as well as other supercomputing platforms, to speed up research.

January 30, 2021 / 10:26 PM IST

BGI Group, the world's largest genomics company, has worked with China's military on research that ranges from mass testing for respiratory pathogens to brain science, a Reuters review of research, patent filings and other documents has found.

The review, of more than 40 publicly available documents and research papers in Chinese and English, shows BGI's links to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) include research with China's top military supercomputing experts. The extent of those links has not previously been reported.

BGI has sold millions of COVID-19 test kits outside China since the outbreak of the new coronavirus pandemic, including to Europe, Australia and the United States. Shares of BGI Genomics Co, the company's subsidiary listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange, have doubled in price over the past 12 months, giving it a market value of about $9 billion.

But top U.S. security officials have warned American labs against using Chinese tests because of concern China was seeking to gather foreign genetic data for its own research. BGI has denied that.