Experts have raised concerns with the shipping of samples of lethal viruses from Canada to Chinese labs, as many fear they may be used in secret Chinese bioweapons programs.

Samples of the Ebola virus and those from the henipavirus family were sent to China in March as part of a Canadian effort to support contagious disease research abroad. Some have warned that such transfers may be dangerous considering China’s alleged research in biological weapons.

“I would say this Canadian ‘contribution’ might likely be counterproductive,” said Dany Shoham, an Israeli biological weapons expert. 

“I think the Chinese activities are highly suspicious, in terms of exploring (at least) those viruses as (biological weapons) agents.”

China has been long believed to be developing a biological weapons program. The U.S. State Department and security experts are almost certain China is looking to weaponize diseases like Ebola.

Concerns about security have since increased after the recent removal of Chinese researchers working in Canada by the RCMP.

Xiangguo Qiu, an Ebola researcher at the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML), and her husband who is also a researcher were escorted out of their labs by authorities in early July. A Public Health Canada spokesman said their removal was related to “possible policy breaches.”

The RCMP investigation remains open, but nothing has been revealed to the public about what exactly happened.

Since the election of the Liberal government in 2015, Chinese-Canadian relations have hit rock bottom.The arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou resulted in a number of retaliatory tactics by Beijing, including the arrest and detainment of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. Meng Wanzhou faces fraud charges over breaking US and EU sanctions by doing business with Iran. 

China has come under fire in recent months for its handling of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and its mass internment of Chinese Muslims in the far west of the country.

Neither the Canadian National Microbiology Laboratory or the federal government have announced whether or not similar shipments of biological agents will be occurring in the future. 

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