China at Vatican organ trafficking talks is 'window-dressing'

Chinese government has never disclosed credible information about how organ transplants are done, says researcher
China at Vatican organ trafficking talks is 'window-dressing'

For the second time Chinese officials have controversially attended a Vatican conference on combating organ trafficking. (Photo by Pixabay) reporter, Hong Kong
Vatican City
December 31, 2018
The presence of Chinese health officials at a Vatican organ trafficking conference would be more meaningful if such meetings weren't just mere "window-dressing," said a human rights researcher.

Chinese health officials attended a March 12-13 conference at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican, just over a year after they controversially did so the first time.

At the conference, Chinese officials outlined what they said were China's efforts to combat organ trafficking but Patrick Poon, an Amnesty International researcher, had little faith in what they had to offer.

"The Chinese government has never disclosed any credible information about how organ transplants are done in China," Poon told "In the past, Huang Jiefu, former deputy health minister, even made contradictory remarks on whether organ transplants were taken from prisoners," he said.

Huang, a liver surgeon, is the official spokesman for China's organ transplantation system, which has been dogged by consistent reports that it harvests organs from death-row prisoners, religious and ethnic minorities such as Uighurs, Tibetans, "underground" Christians and primarily Falun Gong spiritual practitioners.

"If the Chinese government is genuine in addressing the issue, why haven't they released any official figures about how many organ transplants are there in China and how organ transplants are conducted?" asked Poon.

"Such meetings would be more meaningful if these kinds of issues are addressed instead of merely a window-dressing show."

The attendance of the Chinese officials at the conference comes amid efforts to secure a formal Sino-Vatican agreement and is being seen by some media as a sign of warming relations between the two.

"While I don't want to speculate the Vatican's intention to organize such events, I wonder why the Vatican would never organize any events addressing human rights and justice issues in countries like China as the United Nations and many countries have raised concern about human rights records in China," Poon added.

This article was first published 16.3.2018.

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