In recent years there have been numerous reports from media and human rights organisations about the flourishing organ trade in China. Body parts are often removed form executed prisoners, in the majority of cases without their prior permission.
In June 2001, Wang Guoqi, a Chinese former military physician, offered chilling evidence to the US Congress of how he had to harvest organs of more than 100 executed prisoners. In one case he had to skin a shot victim's body while the man was still alive. Skin is particularly “valuable” for its use in burns victims.
Dr Wang, who at the time was seeking asylum in the US, alleged that corneas and other body tissues were removed for transplants, and said his hospital, the Tianjin Paramilitary Police General Brigade Hospital, sold body parts for profit, reported The Guardian.
In an undercover report by a UK magazine Hospital Doctor a reporter posed as a patient and was offered a kidney transplant for $40, 000 from Guangzhou's Air Force Military Hospital. Of that, the middleman (usually a doctor) could keep $12,000 to $15,000, while the rest would go to the hospital, said the report.
Although the exact number of people facing the death penalty in China is an official secret, Amnesty International believes around 3,400 were executed last year, with a further 6,000 on death row.
The lack of transparency in the Chinese Communist regime's criminal justice system, the secrecy that surrounds prison executions and the removal of organs make actual documentation of the practice difficult.