The former president of a Chinese hospital has been charged with bribery.
Fang Yibing, who served as president of Hunan Provincial People’s Hospital from 2005 to 2010 and most recently served as deputy director of Hunan Province’s Health and Family Planning Commission, was charged by prosecutors in Zhuzhou City, according to an announcement by China’s national prosecutor’s office on July 31.
While the hospital is suspected to be involved in the crime of organ harvesting, it isn’t clear if the arrest is related.
Fang, 59, has violated “political discipline,” accepted bribes to promote officials’ positions, and received gifts in exchange for personal benefits, according to prosecutors. In addition, he accepted huge sums in exchange for approving construction projects, purchasing medical equipment and medicines, and performing other such favors for his benefactors. Since the 1990s, Fang has served in different government health agencies and hospitals in Hunan Province.
Fang was placed under investigation in May 2017 by the Chinese Communist Party’s internal anti-corruption watchdog. Before his arrest, there were many related “jubao” reports circulating online. “Jubao” is a way in which citizens or public employees can report and disclose wrongdoings by a public official.
One such post said that in 2008, while Fang was president of Hunan Provincial People’s Hospital, he enabled certain people to win contracts related to the construction of a new emergency surgery building at the hospital. While the project’s budget was originally about 400 million yuan ($58.6 million), that eventually ballooned to more than 600 million yuan ($87.9 million).
The hospital has an unsavory history. In April 2006, state-run newspaper the Xiaoxiang Morning Post ran the headline “Twenty Free Organ Transplants,” to accompany a story that said the Hunan Provincial People’s Hospital would perform 20 free liver or kidney transplants for any patient who called the hospital’s hotline to register.
According to another report by the Hunan Economics TV Station, the hospital performed kidney transplant surgeries free of charge for a family of four who all had kidney disease, after only one month of searching for matching organs.
The source of the organs was unclear. But according to data collected by a U.S.-based research nonprofit, the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, which show the hospital conducted a large number of transplant surgeries within a short period of time, the facility is suspected of participating in forced organ harvesting from adherents of the banned spiritual group Falun Gong.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a meditation discipline with moral teachings based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. In 1999, former Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin launched a nationwide persecution of its adherents, believing that the group’s popularity—by 1999, up to 100 million people in China practiced Falun Dafa, according to Western media outlets that quoted Chinese officials—would undermine the Party’s authority.
Jiang mobilized the state’s security apparatus to arrest and detain practitioners. More than 4,000 adherents are confirmed to have died as a result of torture and abuse while in custody, although the real number is believed to be much higher, due to the difficulty of getting information out of China, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center, the group’s press office.
In recent years, independent researchers have uncovered evidence that large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners have been killed for their organs to supply a booming organ-transplantation industry.
Whereas patients in countries with public organ-donation systems in place typically wait years for a matching organ, Chinese hospitals such as Hunan Provincial People’s Hospital often were able to supply them within weeks—suggesting the existence of a source that can readily provide organs on demand.
Meanwhile, China’s medical bureaucracy has especially faced the wrath of the Party’s anti-corruption campaign this year. Since January, more than 60 officials at public hospitals and government health agencies across China have been sacked.