Shen Baozhong, deputy president of the Heilongjiang Academy of Medical Sciences and president of the Fourth Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University (HMU), has been placed under investigation by Chinese communist authorities on suspicion of “seriously violating Party discipline,” state-run news agency Xinhua reported on April 7.
The turn-of-phrase is an oft-used euphemism for corruption. Since taking power in 2012, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has utilized an anti-corruption campaign to eliminate political enemies and purge misbehaving officials.
Chinese authorities did not elaborate on Shen’s suspected crimes. It is noteworthy, however, that the hospital he was in charge of has a history of involvement in China’s organ trafficking black market.
According to past media coverage and the Chinese Communist Party’s official biography, Shen had “a variety of identities, titles, and awards.” He is well-known in both medical and academic circles in China.
Chinese newspaper Science and Technology Daily reported on March 11 that Shen’s medical team had published a paper about cancer therapy in a foreign medical journal.
As early as 2009, there were rumors of Shen’s involvement in corruption. A post on Tianya, a popular Chinese internet forum, published in March 2009, alleged that Yang Yanming, legal representative for a medical tech company in Heilongjiang Province, asked for kickbacks and accepted bribes using Shen’s name. From 2004 to today, “the amount of money Yang obtained is enough to sentence him to a death penalty.”
Rumors of Yang’s corruption emerged around the time that Shen was appointed president of the Fourth Affiliated Hospital of HMU, in September 2004.
During Shen’s tenure at the Harbin hospital, the facility became involved in a crime far darker than corruption.
According to an October 2006 investigative report by Minghui.org—a U.S.-based website that serves as a clearinghouse for information about the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual group in China—the anatomy research department at HMU had used an abandoned factory building on the outskirts of Harbin to preserve dead bodies and sell them to foreign countries. Locals noticed that mysterious cars went in and out of the building frequently at night, and reported it to the police.
The HMU subsequently sent out an internal notice to staff to prevent this incident from being further exposed, according to Minghui.
The report was part of a worldwide campaign beginning in 2006 to investigate allegations of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a meditation practice based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. In 1999, former Party leader Jiang Zemin launched a nationwide persecution of Falun Gong adherents, believing that the group’s popularity—in 1999, there were up to 100 million adherents, according to Western media outlets quoting 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 due to the difficulty of getting information out of China, the real number is believed to be many times higher, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.
According to independent researchers, large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned within China’s detention facilities have also been killed for their organs, used in China’s lucrative organ transplantation industry.
The first, second, third, and fourth affiliated hospitals of HMU are listed among hospitals suspected of involvement in forced organ harvesting, according to the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), a U.S.-based research nonprofit.
In a phone recording WOIPFG obtained in 2016, Dr. Chen Zhaoyan of HMU’s Second Affiliated Hospital told investigators they “started performing live kidney transplants since 1999.”
Gao Yi of New Tang Dynasty Television contributed to this report.