Supplying the International Demand for Human Transplant Organs is Big Business in China

The demand for transplantable organs is the main reason why organ procurement is so pervasive in China. [204] It is common knowledge that high-paying customers will receive a prompt organ transplant in China. [205]Former transplant patients have reported that they were expected to hand out “red envelopes” filled with money to every doctor they saw.[206]

The money is shared with both prison and court officials. [207]It has been reported that foreign nationals pay upwards of $200,000 for an organ transplant performed in China, using Chinese donors. [208] Sadly, there is also a reported case where a transplant recipient died because the essential post-operation care and treatment ceased because the patient ran out of money.[209]

Due to the high demand for organs, the large number of death-row prisoners, the improved medical technology, and the huge profits, selling organs from executed prisoners in China will continue. [210] The situation is exacerbated because many of the people who are key participants in the harvesting of the organs are poorly paid prison and hospital administrators.[211]

Executions for Profit Have Extra Benefit — Intimidation and Control of the Citizenry

China’s organ procurement from the bodies of executed prisoners is not only a lucrative money-maker, it is also a method to coerce and intimate the general population into submission of government control.  [212] Actually, since the discovery of the lucrative organ transplant market, the number of crimes punishable by death has increased.[213]

Chinese web bulletins boards have reported information discussing the sale and corruption of the “organ business.” [214] Chinese websites advertising organ transplants openly admit to obtaining their organs from executed prisoners. [215] One website specifically targeting foreigners announced on the front page that viscera or soft interior organs including brain, lungs, and heart could be found immediately. [216] This website also thanked the support of the Chinese government, specifically naming the Supreme Demotic Court. [217]

Secrecy in the Chinese government

China has maintained an air of secrecy concerning the sale of organs harvested from executed prisoners, concealing the transfer of profits. [218] China strove to keep the 1984 order on the use of prisoner cadavers confidential in order to avoid international backlash. [219] Even official figures regarding death sentences and executions in China are kept secret from the public and foreigners. [220] Additionally, international human rights organizations are not permitted to visit prisoners in China. [221] Until recently, the Chinese government emphatically denied the legal procurement of organs from Chinese prisoners condemned to death.[222]

The only people that would be present at the scene of an organ harvesting are the victim and the perpetrators. [223] No bystanders would be allowed to witness the event. [224] Afterward, no body would be found, and no autopsy would be conducted. [225] The body would be cremated, and the evidence vanished. [226] The operating room would be left like any other empty operating room. [227] Cremation of the body prevents any evidence from surfacing regarding the harvesting of organs. [228] In addition, any wills created by condemned prisoners are subject to official censorship by the government.[229]

The Supreme People’s Court issued a secret regulation concerning a prisoner’s last will and testament that states, “Those parts which are slanderous in nature or which make reactionary statements are not to be handed over to the person’s family . . . sections complaining about grievances or alleged injustices are not to be passed on to the person’s family.” [230] When one executed prisoner’s brother asked to see the documentation of his brother’s consent to donate his organs, the Chinese officials would not give him the information. [231] Furthermore, the government warned the brother that if he did not keep silent, he and his family would face retaliation.[232]

Organ transplant recipients have stated that the entire process is completed with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. [233] The recipients are typically not told the names of their doctors or the identity of the donors. [234] They are not given any documentation revealing the consent of the donor or family members. [235] Moreover, the procedure is often performed in the middle of the night.[236]

China’s Government Keeps Journalists From Reporting On Its Executions for Profit Programs

China continues to crack down on individual journalists, newspapers, and websites for reporting any news the government deems sensitive. [237] In the Shandong province, it was reported that the Pingdu city government issued a document in March 2007 requesting that officials “use all measures to downsize the impact of negative reporting to a minimum level.” [238]

Chinese national reporters caught reporting on human rights violations from within China are subjected to imprisonment and often charged with communicating state secrets. [239] For the two years prior to August 2006, the Chinese police had detained foreign journalists at least thirty-eight times for covering social issues, including environmental protests, land disputes, and AIDS victims. [240]

While foreign journalists are only detained for relatively short periods of time, Chinese journalists face much harsher punishment. [241] One Chinese journalist suffered from beatings and sleep deprivation while in prison for posting political essays on the Internet. [242]

Yahoo, Google, and MSN Go Along with China’s Secrecy

Some large corporations are aiding China in its agenda to maintain its secrecy of governmental practices and suppress the freedom of its citizens . [243] Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft have all facilitated or at least participated in China’s repression of the media, enabling China’s claim of state secrets. [244]

Yahoo signed China’s “Public Pledge on Self-discipline for the Chinese Internet Industry,” which means that Yahoo agreed to officially censor the Internet.  [245] Yahoo has also provided the Chinese government with account holder information, which led to the conviction of at least four Chinese Internet users. [246]

Google has introduced a self-censoring search engine specifically designed for China as an alternative for its existing search engine.[247]

At the Chinese government’s request, Microsoft shut down the blog of a China-based researcher working for the New York Times. [248] Microsoft has also prohibited Chinese MSN Spaces account holders from using specific terms including “human rights,” “Falun Gong,” and “Tibet Independence” in their account names or page titles. [249]

[204]Brown, supra note 1, at 1078.
[205] Id.
[206] Organs, supra note 4, at 46 (statement of Harry Wu, Executive Dir., The Laogai Research Foundation); Traditionally in Chinese culture, money gifts are given in small red envelopes, symbolizing good luck and fortune.
[207] Id.
[208] Hemphill, supra note 29, at 438.
[209] Organs, supra note 4, at 46 (statement of Harry Wu, Executive Dir., The Laogai Research Foundation).
[210] Brown, supra note 1, at 1079.
[211]. Organs, supra note 4, at 11 (statement of Michael E. Parmly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau for Democracy, Human Right and Labor, Dept. of State).
[212] Id. at 1 (statement of Fla. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member, Comm. on Int’l. Relations, Chairwoman, Subcomm. on Int’l. Ops. and Human Rights ).
[213] Id. at 29 (statement of Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Project Dir., Organs Watch).
[214] Id. at 11 (statement of Michael E. Parmly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau for Democracy, Human Right and Labor, Dept. of State).
[215] Failing, supra note 31, at 3.
[216] Bloody, supra note 67, at 17.
[217] Id.
[218] Hemphill, supra note 29, at 443-44.
[219] Id. at 446.
[220] Repression, supra note 10, at 8.
[221] Bloody, supra note 67, at 4.
[222] Hemphill, supra note 29, at 446.
[223] Bloody, supra note 67, at 3.
[224] Id.
[225] Id.
[226] Id.
[227] Id. at 4.
[228] Brown, supra note 1, at 1068.
[229] Id. at 1068-69.
[230] Allison K. Owen, Death Row Inmates or Organ Donors: China’s Source of Body Organs for Medical Transplantation, 5 (No. 2) IND. INT’L & COMP. L. REV. 495, 502 (1995).
[231] Organs, supra note 4, at 2 (statement of Fla. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member, Comm. on Int’l. Relations, Chairwoman, Subcomm. on Int’l. Ops. and Human Rights ).
[232] Id.
[233] Bloody, supra note 67, at 20.

[235] Id.
[236] Id.
[237] Failing, supra note 31, at 13.
[238] Repression, supra note 10, at 19.
[239] Bloody, supra note 67, at 4.
[240] Failing, supra note 31, at 13.
[241] Id. at 14.
[242] Id.
[243] Id. at 15.

[244] Id.
[245] Failing, supra note 31, at 16.
[246] Id.
[247] Id.
[248] Id. at 15.
[249] Id. at 15-16.