China calls for information sharing at Vatican meeting

By Li Ruohan

Beijing organ reforms offer role model, says WHO adviser

Chinese representatives backed enhanced international collaboration in the fight against global organ trafficking at a meeting in the Vatican, the head of China’s official organ distribution system told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Collaboration could start with sharing information and developing a coding system at the World Health Organization (WHO) to track organ trading, Wang Haibo, head of the China Organ Transplant Response System, told a conference on Tuesday.

China could launch an alert system at customs checkpoints so that authorities will be notified when foreign patients on the organ transplant waiting list enter China, he said.

The Chinese government is doing its best in the fight against organ trafficking, including using judicial means to stop and punish violators, Jose Nunez, an adviser on organ transplants to the WHO, told the Global Times after attending the meeting at the Holy See.

China’s principles on the prevention of transplant tourism, such as no foreigners being allowed to receive organs from deceased donors, could be applied in other countries, Nunez said.

China’s allocation of organs, which was done by a computerized system to ensure nobody is privileged, could also be promoted, especially in deprived regions, he noted.

“The cause of organ transplants has been totally different after 2015,” Nunez said. “China has made big and great reforms thereafter and that’s what we want to promote, to show that things can be changed.”

In 2015, China banned the use of organs from executed prisoners and made voluntary donation the only legitimate source of transplanted organs.

WHO expects China to share its transparent and ethical model with other countries, he said. China had set an example of an organ transplant model with trustworthy government involvement, he said.

In 2011, China criminalized the unauthorized trading of organs, a crime for which the death penalty can be imposed in severe cases.

From 2007 to 2017, a joint task force from China’s top health and public security authorities arrested about 220 people including 60 medical staff, for their participation in organ trafficking.

The task force rescued about 100 victims during the same period, according to data presented by the Chinese delegation at the meeting.

It was the second time China was invited by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to a meeting in the Holy See.

Chinese scholars, including former Chinese vice minister of health Huang Jiefu, are confident such exchanges will enable people in China and the Vatican to know more about each other before diplomatic relations are established.

“These exchanged are based on concrete goals with the collaboration of the government. I think these exchanges will grow in the future at the academic and scientific level,” PAS chancellor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo said in an email sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.

“The role of China is becoming more and more important, not only in China but also in the influence that China can have all over the world, especially thanks to the One Belt One Road initiative,” said Sorondo.