The high-ranking Chinese official who sought to defect to the United States last week has a story to tell about his participation in thousands of atrocities—and may have already told it to U.S. consular officials.
Wang Lijun, formerly the director of public security and vice mayor of the southwestern China megapolis of Chongqing, fearing that Bo Xilai, Chongqing’s Communist Party chief, meant to assassinate him, fled on Feb. 6 to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, a four-hour drive west.
He spent over 24 hours in the consulate and, according to a Radio France International report, revealed to consular officials details about crimes committed by him and Bo. He then left Chengdu under the protection of Beijing security officials.
Prominent among Wang’s crimes was his participation in forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, a practice the Chinese regime has denied. Earlier in his career, Wang gave a speech in which he discussed his involvement in organ harvesting.
In 2006, three years after becoming director of the public security bureau in Jinzhou City, Liaoning Province, Wang was given an award—but it wasn’t for fighting crime. Wang’s team had done pioneering research on how best to transplant organs taken from prisoners—who were possibly still alive when their organs were removed—and surgeons acting at his direction had honed new techniques over “thousands” of on site trials.
Wang received the award in September 2006 from the Guanghua Science and Technology Foundation, a charitable organization meant to promote science and technology to youth. According to its website it is under the direct leadership of the Communist Youth League, one of the Chinese Communist Party’s mass organizations used for recruitment.
For a veteran policeman, to see someone being executed and to see this person’s organs being transplanted to several other persons’ bodies, it was profoundly stirring.
— Former Bo Xilai Right-Hand Man Wang Lijun
He notes one time when Guanghua staff had to rush back from overseas to view a trial. “They wanted to witness organ transplantation and examine it from their point of view: organ transplant benefits the public and improves Chinese law enforcement in a humane and democratic way,” Wang said.
“As we all know, the so-called ‘on the scene research’ is the result of several thousand intensive on-site transplants,” he added.
Wang accepted the award as director of the “On-the-Scene Psychological Research Center,” which according to its entry on the website of the Ministry of Commerce is an adjunct of Jinzhou City’s public security bureau. Its brief introduction says it has relationships and scholarly exchanges with universities in over 10 countries. Emails to the research center were not returned, and calls to the number listed did not go through.
In his acceptance speech, Wang said, “For a veteran policeman, to see someone being executed and to see this person’s organs being transplanted to several other persons’ bodies, it was profoundly stirring. This is a great endeavor that involved much hard work from many people. The secretary general of China Guanghua Foundation, Jinyang and his staff were right there at the transplant scene, they have experienced it all with us.”
In a speech given on the occasion of Wang’s award, Ren Jinyang, the secretary general of the Guanghua Foundation, explained that Wang was recognized for his “basic research and on-site experiments” in making transplant recipients more receptive to organs.
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“They have created a brand new protective fluid,” Ren said. “After animal tests, out of body tests, and clinical operations, they have achieved an important milestone where the recipients become more receptive to a liver and kidney injected with such protective fluid.”
Researchers investigating China’s organ transplantation practices were troubled by the remarks and what they implied.
“The so called ‘research scene’ that Wang Lijun refers to is either an outright execution site with medical vans, or possibly a medical ward, where peoples’ organs are surgically removed,” said Ethan Gutmann, who has published extensively on organ harvesting from Chinese prisoners of conscience.
He added that the injections that the award refers to are probably “anti-coagulants and experimental medications that lower the chance of immune-system rejection as the organ is passed between one living body—heart still beating, soon to expire from the trauma—to another.” Gutmann added that this is “normal medical practice” in China, where hospitals, military hospitals, and public security bureaus intersect.
“There is zero guarantee that consent was involved,” Gutmann said. “Ample evidence has come to light that the victims could well have been Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, ‘Eastern Lightning’ Christians or—exponentially more likely—Falun Gong practitioners. In other words, Wang Lijun received an award for, at best, barbarism.”
It is not possible to know what proportion of victims Wang referred to in his remark about “thousands” of on-site transplants were criminal prisoners and how many were political prisoners or prisoners of conscience, such as Falun Gong practitioners. Further, in China there is a range of nonviolent crimes that can be punished with the death penalty, but the communist state does not publish statistics detailing the numbers of people executed and their crimes.
David Matas, an award-winning Canadian human rights lawyer, and David Kilgour, a former Canadian secretary of state (Asia/Pacific) and crown attorney, co-authored a report on organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China. The pair estimate that in the six-year period 2000–2005, 60,000 transplantation operations were done in China and Falun Gong practitioners were the likely source for the organs for 41,500 operations.
In other words, approximately two-thirds of the organs used in transplant operations during this time period—which in part overlaps the period of Wang’s “research”—came from prisoners of conscience, most of whom would have been Falun Gong.
CQ Global Researcher, a leading global affairs journal, quotes Kilgour and Matas and Gutmann as independently estimating over 62,000 practitioners have been killed for their organs in the period 2000–2008.
In the eyes of experts, a significant question left worryingly open in Wang’s remarks is whether the prisoners actually died before their organs were taken from their bodies. Given the reference to drug injections, it is highly possible that the hearts of the victims were still beating when their organs were removed, these experts say.
“It used to be that China would shoot for execution, then they shifted from shooting to using injections,” says Matas. “In effect they’re not killing by injection, but paralyzing by injection, and taking the organs out while the body is still alive.”
When an organ is removed from a still-live body, it is fresher and rejection rates are lower. “It’s possible to source an organ immediately after the victim is brain dead, but much more complicated,” says Matas. “The organ deterioration is more marked once they are brain dead, but if you keep the body alive through drugs you can harvest organs over a longer period of time.”
Wang’s conversations with the U.S. consular officials in Chengdu might shed light on such details as the function of the drugs he used in transplantation operations in Liaoning Province.
In any case Wang’s visit to the consulate provides the best opportunity to date of confirmation from a Chinese official of the ongoing practice of forced organ harvesting in China.
At a press conference on Monday in Washington, D.C., Falun Gong spokesperson Dr. Tsuwei Huang called on the U.S. government to release the contents of Wang Lijun’s conversations.
With research by Sophia Fang.
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