Both Houses of Congress Revisit Bill to Confront China’s Forced Organ Harvesting

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The 117th U.S. Congress has reintroduced a bipartisan bill to take on the crime of forced organ harvesting in Communist China. It was sponsored by senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Chris Coons (D-CT), as well as congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Tom Suozzi (D-NY).

Though the Chinese Communist Party has admitted to harvesting the organs of death-row prisoners — and claims the practice has been abolished — human rights experts believe that the bulk of the victims are innocent people, mainly adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual group. Other victims include ethnic minorities and Chinese house church Christians. 

Known as S. 602 in the Senate and H.R. 1492 in the House, the bills are a redux of the “Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act” proposed on Dec. 15, 2020 by the same legislators. 

Crop of a protest banner depicting the prices organs harvested from unwilling donors can fetch. (Image: Vision Times)

If passed, the Act would authorize U.S. authorities to deny or revoke passports for those found purchasing illegally harvested organs, and require that the U.S. government produce annual reports on Chinese organ harvesting and trafficking to the Department of State. It also places greater scrutiny on foreign officials and organizations believed responsible for the crime, and restricts the ability of U.S. entities to cooperate with or deliver supplies to those parties. 

Bitter Winter, an online magazine that focuses on religious freedom in China, welcomed the move; if approved, the legislation would “concretely expand the US government’s powers to eradicate this horrible sore.”

“Several researchers contributed to this important initiative by the US Congress in 2020, now so importantly renewed in 2021,” Bitter Winter notes. “The most comprehensive analysis is that furnished by the London, UK-based China Tribunal, the independent court initiated in 2018 by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), which in turn is an international not for profit organization with headquarters in Australia and a national committee in Great Britain. The China Tribunal, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice, released its judgment in 2020 and that judgment is simply devastating.”

Susie Hughes, Executive Director of ETAC, said that “the Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act is one of the most significant international responses to the China Tribunal’s Judgment to date.”

“We hope that more governments will be inspired to follow in the footsteps of the United States, to ensure their own citizens are not caught up in the mass murder of innocents for their organs in China,” she said. 

David Matas, a Canadian human rights lawyer and co-founder of ETAC, said “How do we get the Chinese Communist Party and the state it runs to stop the killing of innocents for their organs?  One way is surely to shine a light on what they are doing.”

Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas speaks at Portland State University following a screening of ‘Human Harvest,’ a 2014 documentary exposing the Chinese state-sponsored abuse of organ transplant technology. (Image: Vision Times)

‘Rights-respecting nations must confront the evidence’

Kristina Olney, Director of Government Relations for the Washington, D.C.-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), spoke at a Feb. 24 event held to address the allegations of forced organ harvesting: She said that “the United States and the rights-respecting nations of the world must confront the evidence of this horrific human rights taking place in China today and hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its complicity.”

In March 2020, VOC published a report titled Organ Procurement and Extrajudicial Execution in China: A Review of the Evidence, by Australian researcher Matthew Robertson. The report, which relies on extensive original research into the Chinese medical system, notes that the number of Chinese organ transplants skyrocketed in the early 2000s, coinciding with the start of the CCP’s campaign to “eradicate” Falun Gong. 

“Evidence includes the coincidence of the anti-Falun Gong campaign (in July 1999) with the rapid growth of China’s transplant industry six months later, widely reported blood tests and physical examinations consistent with those required for organ procurement, telephone admissions by Chinese doctors, threats of organ harvesting by prison and labor camp guards, and participation in the anti-Falun Gong campaign by Chinese transplant surgeons,” the report reads. 

Many of the same signs have been observed in the CCP’s more recent efforts to “de-extremify” the Muslim Ughyur population, including blood testing and physical examinations, as well as reports that Uyghyrs are being shipped to other parts of China via rail. Robertson’s research also established, via data analysis, that Beijing’s claims of voluntary organ donation are mostly fake. 

VOC Chairman and Acting CEO, Dr. Edwin J. Feulner, comments: “The introduction of the Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act is an important step forward to hold perpetrators of the horrific crime of forced organ harvesting accountable. We call on the U.S. Congress to support swift passage of this legislation to combat organ trafficking and trafficking in persons for organs around the world.”

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  • Leo Timm is a writer and Chinese-to-English translator with years of experience covering Chinese politics, society, and culture. Follow him on Twitter at @soil_and_grain.