Despite repeated denials, China stands accused of a systematic cover-up to hide the continuing practice of forced organ harvesting and murder. The practice, described as “state-run mass murder” and valued at $1 billion each year, has supposedly been outlawed in the country. But a new report, published on November 14 in the BMC Medical Ethics journal, refutes this, accusing China of a “systematic falsification and manipulation of official organ transplant datasets,” as the killings continue.
In June, I reported on the China Tribunal in London, which found evidence of “forced organ harvesting” from Chinese prisoners, including Falun Gong practitioners and Uighur Muslims. The Tribunal’s final judgment concluded that this “forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale, [and] the tribunal has had no evidence that the significant infrastructure associated with China’s transplantation industry has been dismantled.”
The Tribunal used first-hand testimony from former detainees and the implausible accessibility of transplants to shape its findings. Those witness reports were horrific—including organ extractions on live victims who were subsequently killed by the procedures. With China’s illegal organ transplant industry said to be worth $1 billion each year, the country is determined to deflect the international outcry that has intensified as details of the organ harvesting have come to light. But this latest report casts doubt over claims of reform, exposing a material delta between the estimated number of transplants and the state’s official statistics.
In short, a new system of voluntary donations has been operating alongside and not instead of forced extractions. The giveaway, according to the report, is patterns in the data provided by China which are too neat to be genuine—they were falsified.
China says that its efforts to reform date back to 2010, with a system of voluntary donations replacing the forced and lethal harvesting of organs from prisoners. The country also claims that those prior practices have been outlawed, entirely replaced by this new system. Not so, says the BMC article, claiming that China is “artificially manufacturing organ transplant donation data.” The report goes on to say that these latest findings mean that any trust remaining in China’s organ harvesting system “has been violated.” The report says the reforms were actually “a mask for the continued use of non-voluntary donors or donors who are coerced into giving organs.”
In other words, little has changed.
Sources behind the forensic data analysis deployed by the report’s authors included the China Organ Transplant Response System (COTRS) and the Red Cross Society of China. Data that found mathematical patterns that defy expected statistical anomalies. In others words, the official China reports emanate from a PR spreadsheet and not from any kind of genuine on the ground analysis and genuine data.
Susie Hughes from the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC) welcomed the findings, warning that the report “exposes the lies and deception that mark China’s so-called transplant ‘reforms.’ The falsification of the China Organ Transplant Response System (COTRS) data appears to be part of an elaborate coverup that disguises the state-run mass murder of innocent people for their organs in China.”
Earlier this year, David Spiegelhalter, a former president of the Royal Statistical Society, reviewed the core analysis, commenting that “the anomalies in the data examined follow a systematic and surprising pattern—the close agreement of the numbers of donors and transplants with a quadratic function is remarkable and is in sharp contrast to other countries who have increased their activity over this period. I cannot think of any good reason for such a quadratic trend arising naturally.”
Responding to the Tribunal’s findings in June, the Chinese Embassy in London said its “government always follows World Health Organisation’s guiding principles on human organ transplant, and has strengthened its management on organ transplant in recent years. On 21 March 2007, the Chinese state council enacted the regulation on human organ transplant, providing that human organ donation must be done voluntarily and gratis.” The embassy has been approached for any comments on the claims made in this latest report.
As tensions continue between the U.S. and China over alleged human rights abuses, with sanctions including restrictions placed on leading Chinese companies, this report will be seriously unhelpful to Beijing and its claims that the U.S. is painting a misleading picture of the country. This is especially true of Xinjiang and the region’s Uighur Muslim minority, which has prompted sanctions on a number of China’s surveillance technology giants and which also finds itself central to claims of forced organ harvesting. By contrast, the case being made by the U.S. will be strengthened.