As Vatican defends China over organ trafficking, Huang Jiefu says he plays no diplomatic role
Conference participants criticise China, claiming it hides trafficking in prisoners’ organs. ““Are they doing any illegal transplantation of organs in China? We can’t say. But we want to strengthen the movement for change,” said Mgr Sánchez Morondo. Huang was invited to the Vatican only as transplant expert. Some suspect that the Holy See wants to ingratiate itself with Beijing to continue their dialogue.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Mgr Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, defended China's presence at the international summit against organ trafficking under way at the Vatican. China has long been criticised for allegedly harvesting organs of executed political prisoners.
“Are they doing any illegal transplantation of organs in China? We can’t say. But we want to strengthen the movement for change,” said Mgr Sánchez Sorondo to calm things after the address by Huang Jiefu, former Chinese vice minister of health and current head of the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee.
Huang tried to reassure the international medical community that China is "mending its ways " after harvesting organs from death row prisoners without even their consent, a programme Huang said ended in 2015
Still, many medical associations, members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, and activist groups accuse China of continuing this lucrative business behind the scenes on behalf of local and foreigner recipients looking for a transplant.
“I am fully aware of the speculation about my participation in the summit,” Huang told the conference, citing “continuing concerns about the transplant activities”.
Huang’s colleague, Dr Haibo Wang, stressed the sheer impossibility of trying to fully control China’s transplant activity since there are one million medical centres and three million licensed doctors operating in the country.
China is home in fact to a thriving black market in organs that in addition to death row prisoners also involves poor people. Chinese media often report cases of parents or young people offering a kidney to treat relatives or finish their studies.
At the conference, participants called on Beijing to allow independent scrutiny, including the possibility of interviewing donors’ families without interference.
Others pointed out that even the World Health Organisation is not totally independent vis-à-vis China.
The group Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) said China's participation was compromising the conference.
The group's criticism follows a 600-page report last year by the International Coalition to End Organ Pillaging in China (EOP), which said the Chinese Communist Party was behind the mass killing of innocent prisoners to meet “market needs”.
Various activists said that the invitation by the Pontifical Academy of Science gave an "air of legitimacy" to what happens in China as a way to ingratiate itself with Beijing and boost China-Holy See ties.
With respect to the latter issue, Huang told the Global Times that he had no diplomatic role and that he was invited only as "an expert in the field" of transplants.