Forced Organ Harvesting in China Is Medical Genocide for Profit

Part 1 of the 4-part series 'World Summit on Forced Organ Harvesting'
September 23, 2021 Updated: September 28, 2021

News Analysis

New details are emerging about the billion-dollar forced organ harvesting industry in China that has resulted in a million or more deaths of unwilling “donors.”

The World Summit on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting, held between Sept. 17 and Sept. 26, brought together academics, lawyers, and politicians from around the world to discuss the overwhelming evidence of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) transplant abuse, committed mostly against prisoners of conscience.

But the CCP isn’t the only perpetrator, according to summit participants. Political, academic, and media silence in the West, for reasons of commerce, amounts to complicity. The CCP’s goal of eroding international norms of consent in order to maximize its profit from this industry must be stopped, participants argued, by more forcefully speaking out and legislating against the abuse, including through individualized sanctions against those CCP members who are most responsible, as well as an end to the international training of transplant surgeons from China.

‘Medical Genocide’

More than a million, by some estimates, have fallen prey to forced organ harvesting in what could be considered “medical genocide,” according to organizers of the World Summit on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting. The killings meet the U.N. Genocide Convention definition of genocide, which includes attempts to eradicate not only races but religions, when there is state-level intent to do so.

“The mass killing of prisoners of conscience for their organs serves a dual purpose for the [Chinese Communist] Party,” according to David Matas, an international human rights lawyer from Canada. “The killings eliminate what the Party sees as its political enemies.”

Epoch Times Photo
David Matas presents a new report on mass organ harvesting in China, at the National Press Club in Washington on June 22, 2016. (Lisa Fan/Epoch Times)

Carlos Iglesias Jiménez, an international human rights lawyer from Spain, agreed.

“The CCP’s aim is to eradicate, to physically eliminate people because of their spiritual beliefs—these prisoners of conscience—such as Christians, Tibetans, Buddhists, and especially the millions of Falun Gong practitioners. The priority objective is their elimination, their eradication, and this logically has the connotations of a crime of genocide,” he said.

According to Theresa Chu, a lawyer with the Taiwan Falun Gong Attorney Group, “Forced organ harvesting is not only used to carry out the … genocide of Falun Gong practitioners and ethnic minority groups, such as Uyghurs, but also implicated in massive economic profits from organ transplantation, transnational organ sale, transplant tourism, and organ brokerage.”

Forced organ harvesting in China has a pecuniary root, as it has likely produced billions of dollars in revenue for China’s hospitals, and hundreds of millions in taxes for use by Beijing.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, in London, called the practice “commercialized murder.”

Indeed, it is mass murder carried out on an industrial scale, with the involvement of China’s military. On close read, the evidence of forced organ harvesting in China sounds a lot like genocide, given that it’s focused against a particular religion that the state seeks to eradicate.

Dr. Declan Lyons at Trinity College in Dublin said that “organ transplantation is … estimated to be a billion-dollar business per annum in China, and up to 60,000 to 100,000 transplants occur on an annual basis in the People’s Republic [of China].”

China’s organ transplant customers are global. Dr. Huang Shi-wei, from Taiwan, said that “over the past 20 years, over 4,000 Taiwanese went to China for liver or kidney transplants. Besides Taiwan, people from South Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and even Western countries flocked to China to receive transplant surgeries after 2000.”

Dr. Weldon Gilcrease, director of oncology at the University of Utah School of Medicine, said, “This kind of egregious and mass crime has never really been at the hand, so largely, of the medical community in history.”

Huang stated that from 2000 to 2006, China’s military maintained the country’s organ banks, which hold data about organ “donors.” After evidence was first published in 2006 that Falun Gong practitioners were being targeted for forced organ removal, the CCP started to more effectively hide the practice. That year, David Matas and David Kilgour, a former member of the Canadian parliament, published their book “Bloody Harvest: Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China.”

Chu recounted the story of a woman named Annie, who helped reveal the existence of forced organ harvesting in China that singles out Falun Gong practitioners. Annie was the ex-wife of a Chinese physician who was “harvesting corneas from living Falun Gong detainees,” and her account exposing the crime caused a global uproar, Chu said.

Transplants provide the primary source of income for some hospitals in China, according to Huang, with one in Beijing registering an increase in transplantation revenues from $4.5 million in 2006 to $30 million in 2010. He said that after 2007, Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities were added to Falun Gong as victims of forced organ harvesting.

Falun Gong, Uyghurs Targeted

Dr. Raymond Scalettar, former chair of the American Medical Association, noted at the summit that the World Medical Association (WMA) has taken a stand against forced organ harvesting, including against Uyghurs, who the United States and the United Kingdom have recognized as being victims of genocide.

“The WMA in 2020 issued a declaration to prevent and battle transplant-related crimes,” he said. “Previous resolutions condemned the many reports of continued violations of these ethical standards by the PRC with imprisoned members of Uyghurs and the Falun Gong.”

An international coalition of five nonprofit groups—Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) in the United States, CAP Freedom of Conscience in France, the Taiwan Association for International Care of Organ Transplants, the Korea Association for Ethical Organ Transplants in South Korea, and the Transplant Tourism Research Association in Japan—organized the event.

The founder of DAFOH and host of the summit, Dr. Torsten Trey, alleged on Sept. 15 that Beijing’s goal with organ harvesting exceeds the bounds of China’s borders. It is to erode international norms requiring the consent of organ donors, he told Epoch TV. Such an erosion would advantage China’s organ transplant industry, which depends upon a massive and ready supply of organs from living prisoners of conscience. “So China is highly interested in tearing down this system of [Western medical ethics] to basically make forced organ harvesting the common standard in transplant medicine,” Trey said.

DAFOH was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and in 2019, it received the Mother Teresa Social Justice Award.

Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) hold an event
Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) holds an event at the University of Arizona in Phoenix, Arizona, on April 19, 2019. (Lucy Fan/Epoch Times)

In 2019, the London tribunal on forced organ harvesting in China heard evidence that the practice is widespread and state-sanctioned. Falun Gong practitioners, whose religion the Chinese regime seeks to eradicate, are imprisoned and made the main source of organs, as recognized by many at the World Summit.

A key component of the Falun Gong religion is truthfulness, which makes them easy targets for Chinese authorities, who simply knock on their doors and ask for admissions of guilt on the spot, according to a Falun Gong source.

Falun Gong practitioners also avoid substances such as alcohol and tobacco that could harm their organs, making them optimal targets of unethical transplant surgeons.

In 1999, there were as many as 100 million Falun Gong adherents in China, according to its state media. They were seen as a threat to the state because they exceeded the number of CCP members at the time, and they organized demonstrations against misrepresentation in China’s state media. According to a Human Rights Watch report, the persecution began in earnest after an April 25, 1999, mobilization. “From all reports, more than 10,000 practitioners, most of them middle-aged, lined up in an orderly column around two sides of Zhongnanhai, the compound in the heart of Beijing where China’s leaders live and work.”

While the U.S. government and establishment media have paid extensive attention to China’s genocide against the Uyghurs, less attention is being given to the similar genocide against Falun Gong. This arguably has three reasons. First, Falun Gong is seen by some scholars as a relatively new religion, which therefore is less known and gets less sympathy from members of the public. Second, the Uyghur genocide targets the more established Muslim religion. And third, CCP authorities have made a concerted propaganda push to label the Falun Gong with the derogatory term of “cult.”

André Gattolin, a senator from France, is co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China. He told the summit that the CCP tactic of smearing Falun Gong as a “cult” was effective at chilling debate in France about forced organ transplants.

“The fact that the victims of these forced removals are most often followers of religious minorities such as Falun Gong, presented by the Chinese government as a cult, always provokes distrust within our population, where a sometimes rather intolerant conception of secularism has prevailed for more than a century,” he said.

“The accusation of sectarianism sounds like an anathema and often leads to a dismissal without appeal. This is the case even though the Interministerial Mission of Vigilance and Combat against Sectarian Abuse has already pointed out several times that Falun Gong does not fall into this category.”

The Interministerial Mission of Vigilance and Combat against Sectarian Abuse is a French government agency charged with analyzing cults and protecting their victims.

“Beijing has played a masterstroke of propaganda in order to cover Falun Gong with an image of being unacceptable and therefore indefensible,” Gattolin said.

The CCP has likewise tried to tar Uyghurs as anathema, labeling their legitimate protest activities as “terrorism,” even though the CCP themselves are the terrorists, according to an authoritative reading of U.S. law. American human rights lawyer Terri Marsh and University of Chicago academic Teng Biao make this argument forcefully in a 2020 article in the Journal of Political Risk, which includes a discussion of forced organ harvesting as one kind of terrorism committed by the CCP.

U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) noted that the CCP is the “principal perpetrator of forced organ harvesting.” As the lead Republican on the Foreign Affairs subcommittee, Chabot said he closely monitors “Beijing’s efforts to remake the world in the image of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Given the CCP’s brutal repression of Uyghurs and Tibetans, Chabot said, “it should come as no surprise, then, that the PRC under communist leadership is engaged in one of the most barbaric practices in human history—forced organ harvesting—to bring health and wealth to the CCP and its cronies.”

As identified by Trey, a danger for the West is that the CCP could become so powerful that it’s able to export its lack of medical ethics globally.

Chabot added: “A world that conforms to the values of the CCP is one in which those who don’t toe the Party line can be put in a concentration camp or have their organs harvested. That’s a vision for a world that nobody wants to live in. And that’s the vision of the world that we are all fighting against.”

Dehumanization, which forced organ harvesting executes in an almost literal fashion, is an integral part of the CCP’s terror campaign and genocide against Falun Gong. 

One doesn’t need to be an international lawyer to realize that the brutal suppression of Falun Gong that began in 1999 meets the U.N. definition of genocide. And the rise in transplant tourism to China in the early 2000s corresponds to the start of the genocide against Falun Gong. The two are connected. Forced organ harvesting against Falun Gong is a medical and profit-driven means of genocide. 

Read part 2, part 3, and part 4.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Anders Corr
Anders Corr has a bachelor's/master's in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He is a principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. His latest books are “The Concentration of Power: Institutionalization, Hierarchy, and Hegemony” (2021) and “Great Powers, Grand Strategies: the New Game in the South China Sea" (2018).