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US government sent more than $28M to Chinese entities for research, Stefanik-requested GAO study finds

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EXCLUSIVE: The U.S. Government Accountability Office conducted a study, requested by House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and House Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Michael McCaul, which found that U.S. government agencies sent more than $28 million taxpayers dollars to Chinese entities for research and development between 2015 and 2021.

The study came after Stefanik, R-N.Y., and McCaul, R-Texas, in January 2021, requested the GAO undertake a study to assess the extent of funding provided across the U.S. government for research programs with entities in China or with entities controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

According to the report released last Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health provided research funds “directly to Chinese entities.”

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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 08: U.S. House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) attends at a press conference following a Republican caucus meeting, at the U.S. Capitol on June 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. Stefanik spoke out against the January 6 Committee hearings set to begin tomorrow. 

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 08: U.S. House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) attends at a press conference following a Republican caucus meeting, at the U.S. Capitol on June 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. Stefanik spoke out against the January 6 Committee hearings set to begin tomorrow.  (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“The CDC, NIH, and DOD provided 22 awards totaling $28.9 million directly to Chinese entities including universities and other research institutions,” the GAO report states.

The GAO found that awards funded by the CDC, DOD and NIH focused on “multiple scientific disciplines, including public health and biological sciences.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been criticized and mocked from all sides after a series of muddled messages have baffled Americans amid a record surge in COVID-19 cases and the spread of the omicron variant. (iStock)

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been criticized and mocked from all sides after a series of muddled messages have baffled Americans amid a record surge in COVID-19 cases and the spread of the omicron variant. (iStock) (iStock)

The U.S. government funding, according to the GAO, went to Chinese entities to conduct a “wide range of research, including disease surveillance, vaccination studies, and the development of new drugs.”

Stefanik’s office told Fox News Digital that funding is “concerning,” considering the Chinese Communist Party’s “consistent blockage of international efforts to determine the origins and spread of COVID-19.”

Members of the World Health Organization team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease

Members of the World Health Organization team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

“China’s deception and stonewalling of the truth behind the origins of COVID-19 has led to millions of senseless deaths and trillions of dollars in economic destruction across the globe,” Stefanik told Fox News Digital. ” Following my advocacy, the Government Accountability Office undertook a study to account for the total amount of American taxpayer dollars that have gone to China for research efforts, and their findings are troubling.”

“Since 2015, the CDC, NIH, and DoD have all sent taxpayer dollars to China for joint research,” she continued. “Even more frightening, we still have no idea how much total money has been sent to China due to lax reporting requirements.”

The GAO found that the CDC awarded over half of the funding ($15 million) through cooperative agreements to Chinese entities focused on applied research. The GAO said NIH awarded $13.6 million and DOD awarded $0.4 million through grants that focused on “a mix of basic and applied research.”

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The report says that the CDC, NIH and DOD provided awards to 13 Chinese entities, but said that the University of Hong Kong, Peking University and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention received 84% of direct funding.

“Over one-third of the funding ($10.8 million) to Chinese entities was provided to entities in Hong Kong, and the remaining $18.1 million awarded to entities in mainland China,” the report states, noting that the U.S. government treated Hong Kong separately from China until July 2020.

The report states that of the 22 awards to Chinese entities, 17 were closed and give remained ongoing. The awards—given by NIH and CDC—were ongoing as of July 2022.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 29: U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) testifies during a Republican-led forum on the origins of the COVID-19 virus at the U.S. Capitol on June 29, 2021.

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 29: U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) testifies during a Republican-led forum on the origins of the COVID-19 virus at the U.S. Capitol on June 29, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images  |   )

The GAO found that Chinese entities also received additional federal research funds through “subawards from award recipients.”

“Information on the full extent of that funding is unknown due to limitations in the data provided in accordance with federal subaward requirements,” the report states.

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“Make no mistake, the Chinese Communist Party’s deception throughout the pandemic confirmed that China is not a reliable partner,” Stefanik told Fox News Digital. “I am committed to the critical oversight of American taxpayer dollars and ensuring our agencies are not funding research in China at the expense of American interests.”

The CDC, DOD and NIH did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment on the report.

House Republicans have been investigating the origins of COVID-19, and have vowed to continue their probes—especially if they retake control of Congress and have subpoena power after the midterms.

More than two years into the global COVID-19 pandemic, there is no definitive proof that the virus started in nature or that it leaked from a lab.

The theory that the virus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which studies coronaviruses, is no longer shunned as a conspiracy and is gaining more traction among scientific communities.

Brooke Singman is a Fox News Digital politics reporter. You can reach her at Brooke.Singman@Fox.com or @BrookeSingman on Twitter.

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