Participants at a Vatican conference on organ trafficking on Tuesday challenged China to allow independent scrutiny to ensure it is no longer using organs from executed prisoners, saying Chinese assurances are not enough to prove the transplant program has been reformed.
Sparks flew in the afternoon session of the meeting as former Chinese minister of health Huang Jiefu (黃潔夫) sought to assure the international medical community that China was “mending its ways” after declaring an end to the prisoner harvesting program in 2015.
“I am fully aware of the speculation about my participation in the summit,” Huang told the conference, citing “continuing concerns about the transplant activities.”
However, he provided scant data to rebut critics, showing only two slides indicating an increased number of living and deceased donors in recent years and China’s recent efforts to crack down on black-market transplant activities.
Huang first publicly acknowledged the inmate harvesting organ program in 2005 and later said as many as 90 percent of Chinese transplant surgeries using organs from dead people came from executed prisoners. He has spearheaded a reform effort and pledged that China put an end to the program in 2015.
However, doubts persist that China is meeting its pledge, given its lack of transparency, the severe shortage of organ donors and China’s longstanding black-market organ trade.
Huang’s colleague, Haibo Wang, stressed the sheer impossibility of trying to fully control China’s transplant activity since there are 1 million medical centers and 3 million licensed doctors operating in the nation. As a result, China proposed at the Vatican meeting that the WHO form a global task force to help crack down on illicit organ trafficking.
Jacob Lavee, president of Israel’s transplant society, said the WHO should be allowed to conduct surprise inspections and interview donor relatives in China.
“As long as there is no accountability for what took place ... there can be no guarantee for ethical reform,” he told the conference in a heated exchange.
He was joined by Gabriel Danilovitch, from the UCLA Medical Center, who challenged the Chinese delegation to declare straight out if prisoner organs were no longer used.
Wang countered that he and Huang spent the past 12 years battling critics inside China and out to reform the sector, and said China should not be singled out for spot WHO inspections.
The back-and-forth underscored the controversy over China’s participation in the conference, after critics sent a letter to organizers and Pope Francis warning that Chinese attendance amounted to a Vatican whitewash of its past practices.
However, organizers stood firm in their invitation.
“Are they doing any illegal transplantation of organs in China? We can’t say,” said Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. “But we want to strengthen the movement for change.”
CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT: A new committee would investigate a backlog of US weapons sales to Taiwan, said its chairman, US Representative Mike Gallagher The US should formally recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, and end its outdated and counterproductive “one China” policy, US Representative Tom Tiffany and 18 other US lawmakers wrote in a petition. “It is time to change the status quo and recognize the reality denied by the US government for decades: Taiwan is an independent nation,” Tiffany told the Epoch Times. “As our long-standing and valued partner, correctly acknowledging their independence from communist China is long overdue.” The resolution also asks the administration of US President Joe Biden to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations and to negotiate a bilateral free-trade
GUT FEELING: In the leaked memo, US Air Force General Mike Minihan urged mobile command personnel to go to a firing range, shoot at a target and ‘aim for the head’ A four-star US Air Force general has warned of a conflict with China as early as 2025 — most likely over Taiwan — and urged his commanders to push their units to achieve maximum operational battle readiness this year. In an internal memorandum that first emerged on social media on Friday, and was later confirmed as genuine by the Pentagon, Air Mobility Command Commander General Mike Minihan said that the main goal should be to deter “and, if required, defeat” China. “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025,” Minihan said. Minihan said that Taiwan’s presidential election
INCREASED RISK: The Omicron BA.2.75 subvariant has higher immune evasive capacity, but the CECC is more concerned about newer subvariants such as XBB and BQ.1 With the peak season for infectious respiratory diseases coming to an end, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that details of the next phase of lifting COVID-19 masking rules — removing the mask requirement in most indoor settings — are to be announced this week. Discussions on lifting other COVID-19 restrictions are also being held, including further easing border control measures, home isolation requirements and revising the definition for reporting cases, while also downgrading COVID-19 to a lower category of notifiable communicable disease, said Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC. As the daily
DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM: Czech president-elect Petr Pavel said his nation stands firmly on the side of democracy and would boost cooperation with Taipei in all aspects Czech president-elect Petr Pavel spoke by telephone with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties and a diplomatic coup for Taipei. Tsai spoke with Pavel for 15 minutes in a harmonious atmosphere, Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan (林聿禪) said, adding that Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) was also present during the conversation. Lin quoted Pavel as telling Tsai that Taiwan is a trustworthy partner, adding that the Czech Republic stands firmly on the side of democracy and supports Taiwan in maintaining a lively democratic system free from authoritarian coercion. The Czech Republic would