Early last March, the state of Washington was the site of the first major coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. As the need for COVID tests spiked, BGI Group, the world’s largest biotech firm – a global giant based in China – approached the state of Washington with an enticing offer.
In a strikingly personal letter to the governor, BGI proposed to build and help run state-of-the-art COVID testing labs. BGI would “provide technical expertise,” provide “high throughput sequencers” and even “make additional donations.”
It seemed like an offer the state couldn’t refuse, especially given the need. But officials were suspicious about BGI and its connections to the Chinese government.
Bill Evanina, a former counterintelligence official in the U.S., called the lab’s offers a modern-day Trojan horse.