Western reports of Xinjiang organ harvesting flimsy: top organ donation expert

By Liu Xin and Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2020/7/4 23:32:49

Lies don't accord with Chinese principles, practices

File photo:VCG

A new wave of accusations against China of "harvesting organs" emerged recently, and by adding minorities in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to the latest "victims" list, some anti-China forces and Western media are attempting to use these unfounded reports to escalate slandering against China, observers said. "You will never wake someone who is pretending to be asleep," China's top expert on organ transplant said, as these lies do not accord with principles and practices on organ transplant and donations in China. 

Following some Western media reports from the China Tribunal which accused the Chinese government of "harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners" and Uygurs "detained in camps" since June 2019, VICE magazine's France version has released a new report on the same topic on June 19, offering more so-called "evidence."   

By digging into the VICE story and the series of reports on "China harvesting organs" from Falun Gong practitioners and Uygurs, the Global Times has found out that such claims are lies interwoven by members of the Falun Gong cult, separatists from Xinjiang and overseas anti-China forces with the purpose to further paint China as a devil mistreating minorities in Xinjiang, to smear the country's organ transplantation and donation system and its anti-terrorism work in Xinjiang, and to instigate the international community to further pressure China.

The VICE story was released in its France version on June 19, in which it claimed that Xinjiang authorities are taking organs from "detainees" in the vocational education and training centers. One "evidence" it gives is that since 2016, the Chinese government has launched a comprehensive medical check-up in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Tests are "only compulsory" for Uygur inhabitants aged from 12 to 65, it claims.

However, the Global Times learned from different departments and hospitals in Xinjiang and confirmed with local residents, that the medical examination project that started in 2016 covers residents from all ethnic groups. 

The project includes checks on diseases of hepatitis, tuberculosis and echinococcosis to help find diseases early. The early detection of diseases through regular medical checks could help residents get early treatment and decrease poverty incidence for illnesses. By August 2019, the region had invested 4.068 billion yuan in the project.

Many residents from Uygur, Han and other ethnic groups reached by the Global Times confirmed that the medical examinations they had were nothing unusual other than medical check-ups. They felt it was absurd to hear some foreign media linking a project to such horrifying accusations of organ harvesting. 

Another reason listed by VICE to support its accusations against China is the country has the shortest waiting list time - around 12 days for a transplant while many people in China don't wish to donate their organs after death. Therefore, they believe that organ "harvesting from Uygurs" makes up for the high demand.

However, reports on the yearly numbers of China's organ transplantation operations nationwide, and the Global Times' interviews with scholars and experts in the field show how shallow and biased the VICE report is regarding China's organ transplantation and donation system. 

Medical staff bow to the organ donor Li Hongyan before the organ procurement surgery in Shannan, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Aug. 22, 2018. File photo:Xinhua

Transparent system

There are about 300,000 patients who suffer from liver, kidney, heart and lung failure on average annually in China, whilst more than 22,000 organ transplantation operations were conducted last year and the year before, Huang Jiefu, head of the China National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and chairman of the China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation, told the Global Times.

Although the number of organ donations in China has increased in recent years and there are still gaps between supply and demand. "Sometimes a patient has to wait one  or two years to get a suitable organ," said Huang.

Chen Jingyu, a well-known expert in the lung transplant field and deputy head of the Wuxi People's Hospital, told the Global Times previously that differences exist regarding the supply and demand for different organs, as heart donations are comparatively few, but lungs are quite common - only 6 percent of donated lungs were used.

Some patients in China also receive organ donations from their relatives. Public data shows in 2017, more than 16,000 transplantation operations were conducted and 86 percent of these organs were from other donors and 14 percent from relatives of the patients.

Back in 2010, China started a pilot reform regarding deceased organ donations. In January 2015, China banned the use of executed prisoners' organs, making voluntary donations the only legitimate channel. 

Organs would be allocated through the China Organ Transplant Response System and surgeons are not allowed to change the system or use organs not allocated via the system or from unclear sources. 

Chen told the Global Times that China's smart organ allocation system allots organs properly and according to an individual's situation. Between two patients, one suffering from a severe illness and has to use a ventilator, and one with relatively mild symptoms, the organ will be distributed to the former.

The basic working principles of allocating organs in China also act as evidence to debunk rumors of "taking organs from Uygurs." One principle is that organs getting from one place to another should be firstly distributed to hospitals in the same place to ensure the success rate and avoid complications during transplantation. 

As Xinjiang is located at the northwestern corner of China, flights to other Chinese cities from Xinjiang usually take more than two hours. For example, it takes 4.5 hours to fly from Urumqi to Beijing and more than 5 hours to Shanghai. According to Xinjiang Daily, Xinjiang announced to start comprehensive work on organ donations from 2013. A total of 55 donations were made and there were 6,700 voluntary donors as of August 2019. 

"You will never wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep," Huang said, noting that rumors regarding China taking organs from Uygurs has long existed. Such fabricated reports always lack solid evidence to support their claims, so there's no need to take them seriously, he said.

"But with China being more open to the outside world, we invited foreign organizations to visit China, to see with their own eyes how China is developing its organ transplantation system. The truth lies in people's hearts."

In the past few years, China has also increased promotion of organ donation among its people. According to data from the website on organ donation established by the China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation, more than 1.3 million people have been registered as voluntary organ donors.

File photo:Xinhua

Closed loop of lies

VICE's story is the latest push to sell the horrific idea of the "Chinese government harvesting organs from Uygurs." Starting from June 2019, Western media have gone wild with similar claims. 

In June 2019, the China Tribunal published a report claiming that the Chinese government has been "systematically executing and harvesting organs of Falun Gong members" and Muslim Uygurs.

Although the China Tribunal describes itself as an "independent tribunal into forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China," a report from US media outlet The Grayzone revealed that the tribunal and the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC) have close relations to the Epoch Times, a far-right media arm of the Falun Gong cult.

ETAC, which initiated the China Tribunal claims itself to be an international nonprofit organization, with its headquarters in Australia.

Falun Gong is an illegal cult that has been banned by the Chinese government. It is also an anti-China political organization that has used unscrupulous measures to discredit China, and the Epoch Times acts as its rumor spreading machine.

Campbell Fraser, an international organ trafficking researcher from Australia, told the Global Times in an interview in April 2017 that a number of Western politicians, academics and lawyers have used Falun Gong to fulfill their political objectives against the Chinese government. 

It seems that to add more ingredients to their long-lasting lies, The Falun Gong cult drags liars and separatists from Xinjiang and more anti-China forces into their clique.  

The VICE story cited Gulbahar Jelilova, who claimed she was sent to Xinjiang's vocational education and training centers and heard about people's organs being harvested.

However, the Global Times learned from relevant departments and various sources that Gulbahar is a Kazakh national and was detained by police for allegedly financing terrorist activities. She had never been to any vocational education and training center during her stay in Xinjiang. 

Erkin Sidick, advisor to the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), has also been mentioned by VICE and some Western media as one of the first to have alerted outsiders to the "existence of the Chinese government selling organs of Uygurs." 

The self-proclaimed "peaceful" organization, the WUC, has been revealed as a US-backed right-wing regime-change network seeking the "fall of China." It has become a political tool for the US' new Cold War and media campaign against China. 

"It has become a closed loop for fabricating, spreading and hyping up lies regarding Xinjiang - overseas separatists, NGOs and anti-China forces create new rumors and lies, Western media report and hype them up, Western politicians use them to make accusations against China. And the practice has been escalated to a new level recently," Wang Jiang, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. 

Wang said that these anti-China forces aim to smear China but their efforts seem in vain as the majority of countries in the international community express support regarding China's stance on Xinjiang. 

Newspaper headline: 'Organ harvest' reports flimsy

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