COVID-19 not only impaled American lives and livelihood since 2020, but it also brought along foreign threats to steal, collect biodata and create civil unrest for Americans under the guise of COVID-19 funding, information, lab testing, supplies and vaccine support. Malicious actors from China, Russia, North Korea and other international governments continue efforts in cyber attacks, proliferating disinformation and pretending to provide aid relief as good Samaritans. Regardless of their methods, the intent is to use COVID-19 to dominate, divide and steal confidential data or money from citizens and residents of the United States of America. NCide will release a 3 part series blog on "Foreign Threats Against the US Disguised as COVID-19 Aid", with Part 1 being about "Chinese COVID-19 Support Veiled as Aid".
Chinese COVID-19 Support Veiled as Aid
Internationally, there has always been friendly competition amongst countries in every industry ranging from automotive to biotechnology. It has been healthy rivalries that have promoted innovations of solutions to world problems. The issue exists when friendly competition becomes a quest for competitive domination, creating a monopoly of the technology for the nation in control. The domination outcome depends on the country of power's ideologies, which will determine how its proprietorship will be implemented. In the example of China, all Chinese state-owned or privately-owned corporations must answer to the Communist Party of China (CPC). Even if a U.S.-based company with a Chinese parent company purports its independence from the parent, it is unlikely that the U.S.-based company be totally independent of the CPC, as that is not how the CPC governs.
The show, 60 Minutes, released an eye-opening report on "China's Push to Control Americans' Health Care Future". As data is power, the access of U.S. COVID-19 testing and patient data would give China the edge necessary to develop disease therapies targeted to an individual's DNA sequence. That seems innocuous and actually beneficial, right? It is, until the Chinese government holds a monopoly position to dictate price gouging of lifesaving therapies that may not be available for purchase elsewhere. Also remember that the drug approval process in a communist regime is not quite transparent nor does it undergo rigorous clinical trials and data peer reviews as required by the FDA. So the safety aspect may be questionable, as public clinical data may not be accurate. What worsens the situation is that U.S. biodata may have been collected under the veil of aid to help the U.S. contain COVID-19. This may be the goal of BGI, a Chinese company and the world's largest biotech firm.
BGI contacted U.S. governors at the onset of the outbreak offering to build state-of-the-art lab testing facilities, including providing supplies and funds to assist in mitigating the U.S. COVID-19 testing crisis. BGI states on its website that it has been developing partnerships with hospitals and biotech companies within the U.S., giving BGI and possibly the CPC access to Americans' biodata, U.S. sequencing technologies and analytics. Labs similar to BGI could be unsuspecting threats sent to setup shop in U.S. neighborhoods and begin data mining U.S. biometrics. Simply put, we do not fully understand China's intent with American biodata. As such, former top counterintelligence officer from the FBI and CIA, Bill Evinina, issued a public warning while in office that: "Foreign powers can collect, store and exploit biometric information from covid tests".
A more subtle approach to collecting the DNA of Americans is for Chinese companies like BGI to invest in or acquire U.S. labs, research centers or genealogy corporations. On the front end, these moves are beneficial towards biotech advancement. On the back end, U.S. biometrics are collected and can be used by or sold to countries with nefarious intent. For example, genealogy companies like 23andMe, which received Chinese investments, charge customers up to $100 or more for their biodata (saliva) on the premise of helping people uncover their ancestry. By paying for this service, clients consent to these businesses selling or doing whatever these organizations want to with their data. Although clients can opt-out, but realistically speaking, how many people actually read privacy policies or truly understand what it contains. Not to mention, these policies are so obfuscating and exhausting to read through the legal jargon that most clients just resign to agreeing with whatever disclosure clauses the company has and move on.
The irony in this is that clients willingly pay to know their lineage, and at the same time pay to give access of their confidential, personally identifiable information to these corporations that profit from their biodata, but yet clients get no financial compensation in return. On top of that, clients may have to pay again to use whatever innovation has been created from their data. A more unsettling possibility is if the company's database becomes breached, then more unwanted strangers are profiting from that data. In 2020 alone, over 6 organizations with biodata for labs, research, or treatment have been hacked, compromising unimaginable amounts of biometrics.
Minimize "Veiled Humanitarian" Foreign Investments Into The US
There are many Chinese investment firms that have either bought or invested in healthcare companies internationally, including SciClone and Pillar BioSciences, which were once US companies. There are approximately 23 Chinese-based or affiliated companies currently operating in the U.S. either on a consultative, collaborative, partnership or investment basis with U.S. companies. China's hunger for power rest not only in healthcare, but In many other industries as well, with the majority of it being real estate. Since January 2005 to December 2020, China has invested $180 billion in the U.S., a country in which it has the largest financial investment. Chinese citizens and corporations have been buying up property with cash, driving up U.S. real estate values and making it difficult for the majority of Americans to afford home ownership within their own country. Fortunately the sour U.S. - China relationship within the past 4 years have slowed Chinese investment in the U.S. significantly, as shown in the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) chart above.
There are other countries like China who wish to dominate U.S. businesses and economy. So how can American companies, especially those in key industries such as technology, finance, infrastructure and real estate remain American without much unfriendly foreign financial influence?
To start, the White House, federal and state lawmakers can implement more regulations that support U.S. business investment like the Biden Administration is enacting by investing tax payer dollars into U.S. manufacturing and technologies. In doing so, more jobs can be created, businesses can have necessary funding to thrive without heavily resorting to foreign investments. The U.S. can be a powerful competitive force in key industries and return to a growth economy. U.S. owned-businesses can support each other when procuring goods and service. As consumers, everyone can do their part in buying American and supporting American made products and services as much as possible. Additionally, it is important to take time to research and follow the corporate investment money trail, as it gives insight into the source of investment dollars. Most importantly, exercise your buying power to advantage American businesses, thus supporting American families and strengthening the U.S. economy.