Deciphering CCP’s Virus Research Programs – Part 6: the Hong Kong Connection

By 22rOn 

Published June 15, 2021

The purpose of this series is to explain the connections between the Chinese Communist Party’s virology research programs since 2005 and the research institutions involved, including those in Hong Kong. All information is sourced from the Internet. The analysis and conclusions presented here reflect author’s own views only.

Below is an excerpt from the original report Disclosure Report on CCP’s Virus Research Programs and Projects, edited to fit for publishing online.

In this series, we examine the blueprint of the CCP’s virus research program by focusing on the research program titled Research on Cross-Species Infection and Transmission Mechanism of Major Outbreak of Human-Animal Infections with Animal Origin (hereinafter referred to as the 2016 Virus Program).

Based on data presented in the previous articles, we can see that Yi GUAN of Hong Kong University (HKU) is an important link between mainland China and Hong Kong. Besides, Guoyong YUAN’s team in HKU is also involved in the 2016YFD0500304 project. In light of the earlier questions raised by Dr. Sellin about the possible involvement of Malik Peiris of HKU in the 2016 Virus Program, the focus of this article is to provide more supporting evidences from different angles to prove the connections between Malik Peiris and the 2016 Virus Program. Another goal of this article is to reveal the other collaborative relationships between the HKU and China’s domestic universities and research institutions.

Connections between Malik Peiris and the 2016 Virus Program

According to the document List of Funded Research Projects 2018/19, made public by the University Grants Committee of HKU, Malik Peiris of HKU was in collaboration with Jincun Zhao(赵金存) of Guangzhou Medical University. They conducted a research project titled Exploring cross-immune protection between different human coronaviruses. It was funded by the Hong Kong Government for 4 years. The project is also funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China. This information can be verified by comparing with Jincun Zhao’s projects funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China in Figure 3(c). (Available in previous article, copied here for completeness.)

Jincun ZHAO’s National Natural Science Foundation research projects in 2018

(Text in the picture translated below:

Search Result:

1.

Project Title: Exploring cross-immune protection between different human coronaviruses

Principal Researcher: Jincun Zhao

Host Institution: Guangzhou Medical University

Direct Cost: 1,000,000 Yuan

Funded Year: 2018

2.

Project Title: Study of alveolar-resident influenza virus-specific CD4 T cell sources, homeostatic maintenance and protective mechanisms

Principal Researcher: Jincun Zhao

Host Institution: Guangzhou Medical University

Direct Cost: 600,000 Yuan

Funded Year: 2018

End of translated text)

Also, Jincun Zhao participated in the 2016 Virus Program, project number 2016YFD0500305, which focuses on studying the structure of important proteins in virus-infected hosts. It can be assumed that if Malik Peiris was involved in the 2016 Virus Program, his involvement may have been through a collaborative project with Jincun Zhao.

Figure: Information of projects funded by the University Grants Committee of the University of Hong Kong

(Text in the picture translated below

National Natural Science Foundation of China and University Grants Committee Joint Research Funding Fund: List of Funded Research Projects in 2018/19

Project No.Project NameHK Researcher/ InstitutionMainland Researcher/ InstitutionMonths of FundingFunding Amount (HKD)
N_HKU737/18Exploring cross-immune protection between different human coronavirusesProf. Malik Peiris/ Hong Kong UniveristyProf. ZHAO Jincun/ Guangzhou Medical University481,050,053

(Only the relevant row with highlight is translated)

 End of translated text)

Additionally, there is evidence that Malik Peiris may have received other “funding” from the Communist China’s government. According reports public media in China, Guangzhou China hosted the “3rd International Forum on Influenza and Other Respiratory Virus” event in September 2018. Guangzhou KingMed Diagnostics Group Co., Ltd. (KingMed Diagnostics), one of the largest independent medical laboratories in China, and Zhong Nanshan, the President of Guangzhou Medical University, attended the event. They jointly announced the establishment of the Center for Clinical Respiratory Virus Diagnosis and Translation, and at the same time the Center also announced the appointment of Malik Peiris as an expert advisor.

Figure: The Center for Clinical Respiratory Virus Diagnosis and Translation of Guangzhou established

(Text in the picture translated below:

Guangzhou Kingmed: Working with Academician Zhong Nanshan to build a “national” respiratory virus precision testing platform

By Wanyu, China Securities Journal, 2018-09-09 08:53

On September 8, the “3rd International Forum on Prevention and Control of Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses – A Century of Influenza Review” (Guangzhou Influenza Forum for short) was held in Guangzhou, during which the State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease and the National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Disease announced the establishment of a viral diagnostic research branch and research center in Kingmed (stock number: 603882). At the same time, Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Health and Kingmed announced the establishment of the “Clinical Respiratory Virus Diagnosis and Translation Center”. Zhong Nanshan, a renowned respiratory pathologist and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, will serve as the director of the center and set up an academician’s workstation at Kingmed to jointly build a “national” precision testing platform for clinical and laboratory diagnosis of respiratory viruses, enhancing our ability to diagnose and treat influenza at the grassroots level, and preparing for the diagnosis of possible outbreaks of infectious diseases. We will help the government to do a good job in infectious disease control.

Looking back from the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic that killed approximately 50 million people to today in 2018, the influenza virus has survived a century. During this period, China has also experienced several major respiratory infectious diseases, such as the H2N2 subtype of influenza virus in 1950, the global outbreak of acute severe respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, and the subsequent emergence of new influenza, avian influenza, and novel Middle East coronavirus (MERS), all with clinical symptoms characterized by respiratory impairment. These outbreaks are severely devastating and unpredictable, posing a serious public health problem and highlighting the importance of active prevention and control.

At the early stage of viral infection, the ability to make timely and accurate laboratory pathogenic diagnosis is the key to effective control of the disease. However, at present, most of the domestic clinical virus detection, diagnosis, research and development work is limited to disease prevention and control applications. The types of virus that can be detected, as well as the technical methods used are not comprehensive, and the appropriate diagnostic technologies for respiratory viruses often cannot be effectively promoted and applied in the clinic due to the lack of an integrated technical service platform. The Clinical Respiratory Virus Diagnosis and Translation Center will become a third-party accurate testing platform for clinical and laboratory diagnosis of respiratory viruses nationwide, accelerate the translation of new viral diagnostic technologies into practice, and provide overall solutions and capabilities for the diagnosis, treatment and confirmation of difficult cases of respiratory viral infections.

“Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Health has been dedicated to the construction and research of respiratory virus diagnostic capabilities since SARS. In recent years, we has made remarkable achievements in rapid virus isolation, early detection and intervention, virus titer detection, cytokine detection, antiviral methods, neutralizing antibodies, influenza vaccine development, protective mechanical ventilation, and antiviral Chinese medicine”, said Academician Zhong Nanshan. These capabilities can only be truly effective in disease prevention and treatment if they are transformed and applied to the clinic through high-level industry-academia-research cooperation. “If SARS comes next time, we are confident that we will be the first to complete the diagnosis independently”, said Zhong Nanshan.

It is understood that Kingmed’s service network covers 90% of the country’s population. It covers much greater range than past epidemiological surveillance networks, and it also has a variety of innovative and integrated technical systems from standardized laboratory management for microbiological testing.  

“Most network laboratories are located in eastern, central and southern China, lacking surveillance data in rural areas, and many low- and middle-income rural areas may have a high influenza rate, yet they lack diagnostic capacity for viral diseases, and diagnostic kits and equipment are not easily available and applied. Therefore, the establishment of the Clinical Respiratory Virus Diagnostic and Translation Center also carries a heavy responsibility to enhance the capability of influenza diagnosis and treatment at the ground level.” Chairman and CEO of KingMed, Mr. Liang Yaoming, said that KingMed, together with Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Health, State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Diseases, and National Clinical Medical Research Center of Respiratory Diseases, hopes that the strong collaboration from multiple parties will help utilize the clinical and research results accumulated by the precipitating institute, and combine those with KingMed’s strong network and translational capabilities to serve the ground-level clinics and help improve the diagnosis and treatment technology of respiratory diseases in China. We hope that the joint efforts will help improve the diagnosis and treatment technology and service level of respiratory diseases in China.

It is reported that as early as 2016, Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Health and KingMed have cooperated to carry out respiratory virus surveillance and testing services, and established an integrated system of appropriate technology for virus diagnosis to achieve “wide coverage” of common respiratory pathogens and the whole course of infection. The two parties took the lead in establishing a clinically-oriented respiratory pathogen surveillance network in the medical and research institutions in Guangdong, covering the whole course of infection and providing overall virus diagnosis solutions, helping primary care institutions to solve the problem of rapid diagnosis of respiratory virus infection. At present, the appropriate technology promotion platform has covered all regional medical institutions in Guangdong Province, which has greatly improved the level of respiratory virus diagnosis and treatment in primary medical institutions.

In order to continue to promote the virus diagnosis technology to the ground level, the next steps for the Clinical Respiratory Virus Diagnosis and Translation Center would be to leverage the technical support from the Institute of Pulmonary Research and the KingMed Service Network, and take the lead in creating the “Greater Bay Area Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Clinical Respiratory Virus Surveillance Network”, carrying out epidemiological research on respiratory disease viruses closely linked to the clinic.

At the meeting, the Clinical Respiratory Virus Diagnosis and Translation Center also appointed more than ten academicians and experts from China and abroad, including Robert G. Webster, Member of the American Academy of Sciences/Fellow of the Royal College, Malik Peiris, Member of the Royal Society of London, Wu Yiling, Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and Richard J. Webby, Director of the World Health Organization Laboratory of Influenza Ecology. Together they will serve as expert advisors to the Academic Committee of the Center and guide the development of the Center. From this year onwards, the Guangzhou Influenza Forum will also continue to cooperate with KingMed to become an international platform for research and translation of virus diagnosis and treatment, and become a new academic card for Guangzhou.

End of translated text)

According to the past news reports and public shareholder information of KingMed Diagnostics, the company is a school-run enterprise of Guangzhou Medical College (formerly Guangzhou Medical University) and was established by Yaoming Liang, a student of Nanshan Zhong. In 2007, Legend Capital invested in its series A funding. In September 2015, KingMed Diagnostics received a RMB 400 million strategic investment from CDB BOYU, CD Capital, Guochuang Kaiyuan Equity Investment Fund (Guochuang Kaiyuan) and Legend Capital. The backing of CDB BOYU and Guochuang Kaiyuan is China Development Bank of China. When KingMed Diagnostics went public in 2018, the company soon became the industry leader in independent medical laboratory in the Shanghai stock market. It is therefore reasonable to consider the possibility that the CCP, through KingMed Diagnostics, has bundled itself with Malik tightly using shared financial interests.

Other Information on CCP’s Virology Research Programs in Collaboration with HKU

In addition to Malik Peiris’ possible involvement in the CCP’s 2016 Virus Program, we also summarize some of the programs published by the CCP,  jointly granted by University Grants Committee of Hong Kong and National Natural Science Foundation of China (in short called it Hong Kong-China Joint Grant) (see reference in later articles of this series). The programs listed below are directly related to virus research:

Table: Programs jointly granted by University Grants Committee of Hong Kong and National Natural Science Foundation of China

Based on the information in the table, we can see that the applicants/application entities applying for joint funding from China and Hong Kong are closely related to the 2016 Virus Program. It indirectly proves that the cooperation between Hong Kong academia and the CCP may be a cooperative relationship with a long history. Their close relationship is the result of long-term infiltration of the CCP into Hong Kong academia (especially in the field of virology and microbiology) in the names of “friendly cooperation” and “joint funding” through Hong Kong-China Joint Grant programs.

Editor’s Summary

Public information shows that Yi GUAN and Guoyong YUAN from Hong Kong University are the key links between research institutions in Mainland China and the Honk Kong University.

The data presented above also provides supporting evidence on Malik Peiris’ connection to the Chinese virology research programs.

Translation: 謐雪兒郭, 许先生

Proofread: DT团队, 夏星湖, 文永

Cover photo: 诺亚方舟

Other articles in this series:

Deciphering CCP’s Virus Research Programs – Preamble

Deciphering CCP’s Virus Research Programs – Part 1: the 973 Program

Deciphering CCP’s Virus Research Programs – Part 2: the Disease Control and Prevention Special Program

Deciphering CCP’s Virus Research Programs – Part 3: the Five-Year Plan

Deciphering CCP’s Virus Research Programs – Part 4: the 2016 Virus Program

Deciphering CCP’s Virus Research Programs – Part 5: Details of the 2016 Virus Program

Deciphering CCP’s Virus Research Programs – Part 7: Other Related Projects

Deciphering CCP’s Virus Research Programs – Part 8: Conclusions and Supporting Materials

0
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments