China to become leading organ transplant nation
In August 2016, Huang Jiefu 黄洁夫, a former surgeon and senior Ministry of Health official now in charge of China’s organ transplant system, said that claims that China still harvests the organs of executed prisoners for use in transplants were “ridiculous” and that the practice had ceased the previous year.
In February this year, Huang attended a conference on organ trafficking held at the Vatican. He was met with suspicion, with many delegates calling for independent scrutiny to ensure that China is no longer using organs harvested from prisoners.
In March, we noted that a surging demand for human organs in China had led the Ministry of Health to hire about 2,000 “organ donation facilitators,” whose main job is to persuade patients’ relatives to give life to others and explain the benefits that will come with the donation.
On July 26, the Associated Press published an interview with Huang Jiefu in which he says that “China will become the No. 1 country in the world to perform organ transplantation in an ethical way.” Some stats:
- Voluntary organ donations have risen to more than 5,500 this year, up from just 30 in 2010, the first year of a pilot program to encourage donation.
- Huang says that will allow around 15,000 people to receive transplants this year, but if we assume the 5,500 volunteers are not donating multiple organs, the math does not make sense unless there are still non-voluntary donors.
- The U.S. currently has around 28,000 patients each year who receive transplants.
- China has limited organ transplants to Chinese citizens, which has eliminated “transplant tourism” — the AP says the days “when foreigners could fly to China with briefcases of cash to receive often risky, no-questions-asked transplant surgeries” are over.
- China is hosting a major conference on transplantation in the southwestern city of Kunming next month.
An excellent NGO resource
In 2016, China passed a controversial set of laws governing foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which have left many foreign and foreign-funded NGOs in a state of uncertainty about the legality of their operations. Many organizations have been discomfited by the law’s provision that puts the Ministry of Public Security in charge of registration and management of all foreign NGOs.
ChinaFile has launched a “community-driven platform” to provide practical information for NGOs working in China, focused primarily on effects of the foreign NGO law.
The ancient history of the Great Firewall
In June 1997, the scholars Geremie Barmé and Sang Ye coined the expression the “Great Firewall of China” in an article published in Wired magazine at a time when North American techno-utopians still believed that “the Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” U.S. President Bill Clinton expressed a similar sentiment in 2000 when he declared, “There’s no question China has been trying to crack down on the Internet — good luck. That’s sort of like trying to nail Jello to the wall.” In 2012, I noted, “Most observers would now admit that the Jello is just hanging there, festooned with nails.” Five years later, that Jello has not gone anywhere.
With the recent news about possible bans on censorship avoidance technology like virtual private networks (VPNs), it’s worth reading Barmé and Sang’s prescient Wired article, published at China Heritage together with a relevant excerpt from Sang’s book China Candid: The people on the People’s Republic.