Lawmakers urge White House officials to enforce sanctions on China's WuXi AppTec, WuXi Biologics: Reuters

After introducing legislation targeting certain Chinese biopharma companies, a group of bipartisan lawmakers are taking their concerns to the White House—and upping the stakes.

Chairman of the House select committee on China Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), ranking member Raja Krisnamoorthi (D-IL) and Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) inked a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo urging sanctions on CDMO’s WuXi AppTec and WuXi Biologics as a national security concern, Reuters first reported.

The four legislators cited Chinese government documents, university websites and media articles to argue that the two companies have ties to China’s Communist Party (CCP) and its military and support the country's policies in Xinjiang, Reuters reports.

Several governments, including the U.S. and EU, have long voiced concern over human rights violations in the Xinjiang region that primarily target Uyghur Muslims.

According to the lawmakers, WuXi AppTec has received investments from several China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) funds, which is China’s primary military force.

"Given WuXi AppTec's clear ties to the CCP and the PLA and its likely role in enabling the genocide in Xinjiang, we urge your departments to consider the inclusion of WuXi AppTec and its subsidiaries on your respective control lists," the legislators said in the letter.

Those lists would include sanctions under the Treasury's Non-SDN Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies List, the Commerce’s Entity List which restricts U.S. sales to certain entities and the Pentagon's "1260H" list, which identifies firms with potential national security concerns.

WuXi Biologics, for its part, was called out for its chief’s alleged military ties attributed through a 2018 resume that lists CEO Chen Zhisheng as a visiting professor at China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences.

The university and eleven of its research institutes were added to the Entity List in 2021 based on concerns from the academy’s biotechnology processes used in the Chinese military including “purported brain-control weaponry.”

The letter points out that the two companies are "rapidly integrating themselves into U.S. supply chains by signing agreements with prominent U.S. biotech entities," Reuters reported. 

WuXi AppTec is “aware of the letter,” a spokesperson told Fierce Pharma in an emailed statement.

“We have always welcomed regulatory oversight of our industry, and our company has successfully completed past U.S. government reviews. But we strongly object to misleading allegations, inaccurate assertions and preemptive actions against our company without due process,” the company representative said, adding that the CDMO is “confident” that it does not pose a national security risk “to any country.”

WuXi Biologics did not immediately respond to Fierce Pharma’s request for comment but previously defended itself in a statement against the recently proposed BIOSECURE Act, which seeks to prevent certain “adversary biotech companies” from obtaining federal funding.

The company called the allegations against its CEO a “misleading description.” According to WuXi Biologics, Chen has never worked for the academy or any military-affiliated institution, nor has he received compensation from such institutions in the country.

WuXi Biologics and WuXi Apptec operate as separate but affiliated companies. The two have recently been on an expansion tear throughout China and the U.S., respectively.