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Two-thirds of China organ transplants from executed prisoners: official

[JURIST] Chinese Vice-Minister of Health Huang Jiefu [official profile] estimated Wednesday that 65 percent of organs transplanted in China are from executed prisoners [China Daily report], contradicting the official posture that China has maintained for years. Huang's statement coincides with an announcement that China is testing an organ donor system [press release] in 10 provinces. The program is a joint effort between the Red Cross Society of China [advocacy website] and the Chinese Ministry of Health [official website, in Chinese]. It purports to increase organ donation, form a donor registry system, and create a distribution system with guidelines meant to curb illegal trafficking. In China, current organ transplant law allows donations to take place solely from living donors to their relatives or spouses, or to someone with whom they have an emotional link.

Earlier this month, China announced [China Daily report] that all 164 accredited transplant hospitals in the country would be re-evaluated in order to keep their licenses, attempting to address reports of "transplant tourism," with hospitals illegally selling human organs and performing transplants for foreigners. Anti-death-penalty group Hands Off Cain [advocacy website] reported last month that China continues to account for more executions than any other country [JURIST report], but, Chinese authorities recently pledged to reduce the number of executions [China Daily report] by enacting legislation. In 2006, the British Transplantation Society [advocacy website] accused [JURIST report] China of harvesting and transplanting the organs of executed prisoners. China responded by approving new regulations [JURIST report] governing the use and international transport of corpses, which was followed within months by a BBC report [text] claiming that the sales of executed prisoners' organs to foreigners was a routine practice. Chinese officials denied [JURIST report] that report.

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