Amidst increasing international outcry over evidence of China's systematic and large-scale organ harvesting of unwilling Falun Gong practitioners and others, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) recently announced that all doctors from China intending to broker organ transplants are banned from entering Taiwan.
The announcement came as part of a collaborative effort by the MAC, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Justice to issue administrative regulations stopping transplant tourism to China and to conduct criminal investigations into illegal organ brokering between Taiwan and China.
“What kind of country does Taiwan intend to build?” said Democratic Party Legislator Tian Qiujin at an Oct. 29 press in Taiwan's Legislature, according to Taiwan's Liberty Times. “If we kept silent about the atrocity of killing or organ-harvesting that occurred in our neighborhood today, we children might eventually take it for granted and follow suit.”
Tien Chiu-chin held the press conference to address allegations that Taiwan doctors were involved in brokering unethical organ transplants for Taiwan citizens in mainland China.
Tien said healthy prisoners in China may be killed for their organs, not executed for their crimes, according to Taiwan's Central News Agency. The cash value of the prisoners' organs, which are sold to waiting transplant candidates, motivates their executions, said Tien. She decried “transplant tourism” to China and called for penalties against Taiwan doctors who facilitate it.
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice have proposed to increase punishments for Taiwan doctors who have brokered organ transplants in China.
Hsueh Jui-yuan, director of the Department of Health Bureau of Medical Affairs, said at the press conference that doctors who solicited patients to travel to China for organ transplants could face sanctions from reprimand to revoking their medical licenses.
“The Ministry of Justice says they are waiting for us to give more cases; they will conduct an investigation of all Chinese doctors visiting here,” said Theresa Chu, an international human rights attorney in Taiwan and the Asia director of the Human Rights Law Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to defending human rights.
International human rights attorney David Matas and David Kilgour, co-authors of a report titled “Bloody Harvest,” which investigates allegations of organ harvesting in China, held a public hearing in Taiwan's Congress last October, Chu told The Epoch Times. “Since then Taiwan began to seriously pay attention to organ sources in China.”
An unnamed official of the MAC cautioned potential transplant recipients to work through legal channels. He said international media have reported that Falun Gong practitioners and prisoners in China have been killed for their organs. A recipient could be party to human rights violations.
Case in Point
One recent high-profile case involves Zhu Zhijun, chief of the transplant department of the Tianjin First Medical Centre in China. Zhu has visited Taiwan on several occasions—including March this year—to conduct evaluations on Taiwanese seeking organ transplants in China.
He and two Taiwan doctors are said to have examined liver transplant candidates in hotels in preparation for the patients going to Tianjin for transplants. Zhu's hospital is said to be the largest liver transplant center in Asia, handling 600 to 700 transplants a year.
Any medical exchanges between China and Taiwan require the permission of the Ministry of Public Health. However, according to Xue Ruiyuan, head of the Ministry's medical department, Zhu Zhijun had not received permission from the Ministry to conduct his organ brokering.
If the allegations that he facilitated the sale of organs are proven, Zhu can face a prison term of six months to five years if he returned to Taiwan, said the China Post.
Hsueh Jui-yuan said the Department of Health Bureau of Medical Affairs had asked the Taipei City government Department of Health to investigate Zhu's visit and to find the names the two Taiwan doctors he worked with.
The Taiwan hospital which invited Zhu, the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Kaohsiung, may face unspecified penalties based on a current statute governing relations between Taiwan and China.
Theresa Chu said other Asian countries will be closely watching what Taiwan is doing to prevent unethical transplant practices. “This matter is very important,” she said.
Additional reporting by Sharif Roach, Epoch Times Philadelphia Staff