Volume 014, Issue 10
The jeepney driver sizes us up the minute we climb in. My research
assistant is a healthy, young Israeli dude, so I must be the one with the money.
He addresses his broken English to me: "Girl?"
No. No girls. Take us to the ......
No. No ladyboy, no kickboxer, thanks. I may be a paunchy, sweaty, middle-aged
white guy, but I'm here to--well, actually, I am on my way to meet a
Chinese woman in a back alley. She is going to tell me intimate stories
of humiliation, torture, and abuse. And the truly shameful part is that after 50
or so interviews with refugees from Chinese labor camps, I won't even be
listening that closely. I'm in Bangkok because practitioners of Falun Gong, the
Buddhist revival movement outlawed by Beijing, tend to head south when they
escape from China. Those without passports make their way through Burma on
motorcycles and back roads. Some have been questioned by U.N. case workers, but
few have been interviewed by the press, even though, emerging from Chinese labor
camps, they are eager, even desperate, to tell their stories. With the
back-alley Chinese woman, I intend to direct my questions away from what she'll
want to talk about--persecution and spirituality--to something she will barely
remember, a seemingly innocuous part of her experience: a needle jab, some
poking around the abdomen, an X-ray, a urine sample--medical tests consistent
with assessment of prisoners for organ harvesting.
My line of inquiry began in a Montreal community center over a year ago,
listening to a heavy-set middle-aged Chinese man named Wang Xiaohua, a soft
spoken ordinary guy except for the purple discoloration that extends down his
He recalled a scene: About 20 male Falun Gong practitioners were standing
before the empty winter fields, flanked by two armed escorts. Instead of leading
them out to dig up rocks and spread fertilizer, the police had rounded them up
for some sort of excursion. It almost felt like a holiday. Wang had never seen
most of the prisoners' faces before. Here in Yunnan Forced Labor Camp No. 2,
Falun Gong detainees were carefully kept to a minority in each cell so that the
hardened criminals could work them over.
Practitioners of Falun Gong were forbidden to communicate openly. Yet as the
guards motioned for them to begin walking, Wang felt the group fall into step
like a gentle migrating herd. He looked down at the red earth, streaked with
straw and human waste, to the barren mountains on the horizon. Whatever lay
ahead, Wang knew they were not afraid.
After 20 minutes, he saw a large gleaming structure in the distance--maybe it
was a hospital, Wang thought. The summer of 2001 had been brutal in South China.
After he'd worked for months in the burning sun, Wang's shaved head had become
deeply infected. Perhaps it was getting a little better. Or perhaps he had just
become used to it; lately he only noticed the warm, rancid stench of his rotting
scalp when he woke up.
Wang broke the silence, asking one of the police guards if that was the camp
hospital ahead. The guard responded evenly: "You know, we care so much
about you. So we are taking you to get a physical. Look how well the party
treats you. Normally, this kind of thing never happens in a labor camp."
Inside the facility, the practitioners lined up and, one by one, had a large
blood sample drawn. Then a urine sample, electrocardiogram, abdominal X-ray, and
eye exam. When Wang pointed to his head, the doctor mumbled something about it
being normal and motioned for the next patient. Walking back to camp, the
prisoners felt relieved, even a tad cocky, about the whole thing. In spite of
all the torture they had endured and the brutal conditions, even the government
would be forced to see that practitioners of Falun Gong were healthy.
They never did learn the results of any of those medical tests, Wang says, a
little smile suddenly breaking through. He can't help it. He survived.
I spoke with Wang in 2007, just one out of over 100 interviews for a book on
the clash between Falun Gong and the Chinese state. Wang's story is not new. Two
prominent Canadian human rights attorneys, David Kilgour and David Matas,
outlined his case and many others in their "Report into Allegations of
Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China," published and
posted on the web in 2006.
By interviewing Wang, I was tipping my hat to the extensive research already
done by others. I was not expecting to see Wang's pattern repeated as my
interviews progressed, nor did I expect to find that organ harvesting had spread
beyond Falun Gong. I was wrong.
Falun Gong became wildly popular in China during the late 1990s. For various
reasons--perhaps because the membership of this movement was larger than that of
the Chinese Communist party (and intersected with it), or because the legacy of
Tiananmen was unresolved, or because 70 million people suddenly seemed to be
looking for a way into heaven (other than money)--the party decided to eliminate
it. In 1998, the party quietly canceled the business licenses of people who
practiced Falun Gong. In 1999 came mass arrests, seizure of assets, and torture.
Then, starting in 2000, as the movement responded by becoming more openly
activist, demonstrating at Tiananmen and hijacking television signals on the
mainland, the death toll started to climb, reaching approximately 3,000
confirmed deaths by torture, execution, and neglect by 2005.
At any given time, 100,000 Falun Gong practitioners were said to be somewhere
in the Chinese penal system. Like most numbers coming out of China, these were
crude estimates, further rendered unreliable by the chatter of claim and
counterclaim. But one point is beyond dispute: The repression of Falun Gong spun
out of control. Arrests, sentencing, and whatever took place in the detention
centers, psychiatric institutions, and labor camps were not following any
established legal procedure or restraint. As an act of passive resistance, or
simply to avoid trouble for their families, many Falun Gong began withholding
their names from the police, identifying themselves simply as
"practitioner" or "Dafa disciple." When asked for their home
province, they would say "the universe." For these, the nameless ones,
whose families had no way of tracing them or agitating on their behalf, there
may be no records at all.
In early 2006, the first charges of large-scale harvesting--surgical removal
of organs while the prisoners were still alive, though of course the procedure
killed them--of Falun Gong emerged from Northeast China. The charges set off a
quiet storm in the human rights community. Yet the charge was not far-fetched.
Harry Wu, a Chinese dissident who established the Laogai Foundation, had
already produced reams of evidence that the state, after executing criminals
formally sentenced to death, was selling their kidneys, livers, corneas, and
other body parts to Chinese and foreigners, anyone who could pay the price. The
practice started in the mid-1980s. By the mid-1990s, with the use of
anti-tissue-rejection drugs pioneered by China, the business had progressed.
Mobile organ-harvesting vans run by the armed services were routinely parked
just outside the killing grounds to ensure that the military hospitals got first
pick. This wasn't top secret. I spoke with a former Chinese police officer, a
simple man from the countryside, who said that, as a favor to a condemned man's
friend, he had popped open the back of such a van and unzipped the body bag. The
corpse's chest had been picked clean.
Taiwanese doctors who arranged for patients to receive transplants on the
mainland claim that there was no oversight of the system, no central Chinese
database of organs and medical histories of donors, no red tape to diminish
medical profits. So the real question was, at $62,000 for a fresh kidney, why
would Chinese hospitals waste any body they could get their hands on?
Yet what initially drew most fire from skeptics was the claim that organs
were being harvested from people before they died. For all the Falun Gong
theatrics, this claim was not so outlandish either. Any medical expert knows
that a recipient is far less likely to reject a live organ; and any transplant
dealer will confirm that buyers will pay more for one. Until recently, high
volume Chinese transplant centers openly advertised the use of live donors on
It helps that brain death is not legally recognized in China; only when the
heart stops beating is the patient actually considered dead. That means doctors
can shoot a prisoner in the head, as it were, surgically, then remove the organs
before the heart stops beating. Or they can administer anesthesia, remove the
organs, and when the operation is nearing completion introduce a heart-stopping
drug--the latest method. Either way, the prisoner has been executed, and
harvesting is just fun along the way. In fact, according to doctors I have
spoken to recently, all well versed in current mainland practices, live-organ
harvesting of death-row prisoners in the course of execution is routine.
The real problem was that the charges came from Falun Gong--always the
unplanned child of the dissident community. Unlike the Tiananmen student leaders
and other Chinese prisoners of conscience who had settled into Western exile,
Falun Gong marched to a distinctly Chinese drum. With its roots in a spiritual
tradition from the Chinese heartland, Falun Gong would never have built a
version of the Statue of Liberty and paraded it around for CNN. Indeed, to
Western observers, Falun Gong public relations carried some of the uncouthness
of Communist party culture: a perception that practitioners tended to
exaggerate, to create torture tableaux straight out of a Cultural Revolution
opera, to spout slogans rather than facts.
For various reasons, some valid, some shameful, the credibility of persecuted
refugees has often been doubted in the West. In 1939, a British Foreign Office
official, politely speaking for the majority, described the Jews as not,
perhaps, entirely reliable witnesses. During the Great Leap Forward, emaciated
refugees from the mainland poured into Hong Kong, yammering about deserted
villages and cannibalism. Sober Western journalists ignored these accounts as
subjective and biased.
The yammering of a spiritual revivalist apparently counts for even less than
the testimony of a peasant or a Jew. Thus, when Falun Gong unveiled a doctor's
wife who claimed that her husband, a surgeon, had removed thousands of corneas
from practitioners in a Northeastern Chinese hospital named Sujiatun, the charge
met with guarded skepticism from the dissident community and almost complete
silence from the Western press (with the exception of this magazine and National
As Falun Gong committees kicked into full investigative mode, the Canadian
lawyers Kilgour and Matas compiled the accumulating evidence in their report. It
included transcripts of recorded phone calls in which Chinese doctors confirmed
that their organ donors were young, healthy, and practiced Falun Gong; written
testimony from the mainland of practitioners' experiences in detention; an
explosion in organ transplant activity coinciding with a rise in the Falun Gong
incarceration rate, with international customers waiting as little as a week for
a tissue match (in most countries, patients waited over a year). Finally,
Kilgour and Matas compared the execution rate in China (essentially constant,
according to Amnesty International) and the number of transplants. It left a
discrepancy of 41,500 unexplained cases over a five-year span.
This report has never been refuted point by point, yet the vast majority of
human rights activists have kept their distance. Since Falun Gong's claims were
suspect, their allies' assertions were suspect. Transplant doctors who claimed
to have Falun Gong organ donors in the basement? They were just saying what
potential organ recipients wanted to hear. Written testimony from practitioners?
They'd been prepped by activists. The rise in organ transplant activity? Maybe
just better reporting. The discrepancy between executions and transplants? As a
respected human rights scholar asked me, why did Kilgour and Matas use Amnesty
International's estimate of the number of executions in China to suggest the
execution rate had stayed constant for 10 years? Even Amnesty acknowledges their
numbers might represent a gross understatement. There might be no discrepancy at
Finally, why had no real witness, a doctor or nurse who had actually operated
on Falun Gong practitioners, come forward? Without such proof (although such an
individual's credibility can always be savaged, even with supporting documents),
human rights advocates argued there was no reason to take the story seriously.
There certainly were not sufficient grounds for President Bush to mention organ
harvesting in his human rights speech on the eve of the Beijing Olympics.
The critics had hinted at legitimate points of discussion. But so had the
Chinese government: Fresh off the confession in 2005 that organs were being
harvested from ordinary death-row prisoners, and after issuing their predictable
denials of harvesting organs from Falun Gong, Beijing suddenly passed a law in
July 2006 forbidding the sale of organs without the consent of the donor.
Three things happened. The organ supply tightened. Prices doubled. And
transplants continued. So unless there has been a dramatic cultural shift since
2004, when a Chinese report found that only 1.5 percent of transplanted kidneys
were donated by relatives, the organs being sold must still come from somewhere.
Let's assume it's prisoners--that's what Taiwanese doctors think--and theorize
that the new law was a signal: Get your consent forms and stop harvesting from
Falun Gong. For now.
And the critics had one thing exactly right: Precision is an illusion. No
taped conversation with a mainland doctor is unimpeachable. All witnesses from
China have mixed motives, always. And, again, no numbers from China, even the
one in the last paragraph, can be considered definitive.
Indeed, the entire investigation must be understood to be still at an early,
even primitive, stage. We do not really know the scale of what is happening yet.
Think of 1820, when a handful of doctors, scientists, and amateur fossil hunters
were trying to make sense of scattered suggestive evidence and a disjointed pile
of bones. Twenty-two years would pass before an English paleontologist so much
as coined the term "dinosaur"--"terrible lizard"--and the
modern study of these extinct creatures got seriously under way. Those of us
researching the harvesting of organs from involuntary donors in China are like
the early dinosaur hunters. We don't work in close consultation with each other.
We are still waiting for even one doctor who has harvested organs from living
prisoners of conscience to emerge from the mainland. Until that happens, it is
true, we don't even have dinosaur bones. But we do have tracks. Here are some
that I've found.
Qu Yangyao, an articulate Chinese professional, holds three master's degrees.
She is also the earliest refugee to describe an "organs only" medical
examination. Qu escaped to Sydney last year. While a prisoner in China in June
2000, she refused to "transform"--to sign a statement rejecting Falun
Gong--and was eventually transferred to a labor camp. Qu's health was fairly
good, though she had lost some weight from hunger strikes. Given Qu's status and
education, there were reasons to keep her healthy. The Chinese police wanted to
avoid deaths in custody--less paperwork, fewer questions. At least, so Qu
Qu was 35 years old when the police escorted her and two other practitioners
into a hospital. Qu distinctly remembers the drawing of a large volume of blood,
then a chest X-ray, and probing. "I wasn't sure what it was about. They
just touch you in different places ... abdomen, liver." She doesn't
remember giving a urine sample at that time, but the doctor did shine a light in
her eyes, examining her corneas.
Did the doctor then ask her to trace the movement of his light with her eyes,
or check her peripheral vision? No. He just checked her corneas, skipping any
test involving brain function. And that was it: no hammer on the knee, no
feeling for lymph nodes, no examination of ears or mouth or genitals--the doctor
checked her retail organs and nothing else.
I may have felt a silent chill run up my spine at points in our interview,
but Qu, like many educated subjects, seemed initially unaware of the potential
implications of what she was telling me. Many prisoners preserve a kind of
"it can't happen here" sensibility. "I'm too important to be
wiped out" is the survivor's mantra. In the majority of the interviews
presented here, my subjects, though aware of the organ harvesting issue, had no
clear idea of my line of questioning or the "right" answers.
Falun Gong practitioners are forbidden to lie. That doesn't mean they never
do. In the course of my interviews I've heard a few distortions. Not because
people have been "prepped," but because they've suffered trauma.
Deliberate distortions, though, are exceedingly rare. The best way to guard
against false testimony is to rely on extended sit-down interviews.
In all, I interviewed 15 Falun Gong refugees from labor camps or extended
detention who had experienced something inexplicable in a medical setting. My
research assistant, Leeshai Lemish, interviewed Dai Ying in Norway, bringing our
total to 16. If that number seems low, consider the difficulty of survival and
escape. Even so, just over half of the subjects can be ruled out as serious
candidates for organ harvesting: too old, too physically damaged from hard
labor, or too emaciated from hunger strikes. Some were simply too shaky in their
recall of specific procedures to be much help to us. Some were the subjects of
drug tests. Some received seemingly normal, comprehensive physicals, though even
such people sometimes offered valuable clues.
For example, Lin Jie, a woman in her early 60s living in Sydney, reported
that in May 2001, while she was incarcerated in the Chongqing Yong Chaun Women's
Jail, over 100 Falun Gong women were examined "all over the body, very
detailed. And they asked about our medical history." Fine. Yet Lin found
herself wondering why "one police per practitioner" escorted the women
through the physical, as if they were dangerous criminals. Practitioners of
Falun Gong are many things--intense, moralistic, single-minded--but they are
strictly nonviolent. Clearly someone in the Chinese security system was nervous.
Or take Jing Tian, a female refugee in her 40s, now in Bangkok. In March
2002, the Shenyang Detention Center gave a comprehensive physical to all the
practitioners. Jing watched the procedure carefully and saw nothing unusual.
Then, in September, the authorities started expensive blood tests (these would
cost about $300 per subject in the West). Jing observed that they were drawing
enough blood to fill up eight test tubes per practitioner, enough for advanced
diagnostics or tissue matching. Jia Xiarong, a middle-aged female prisoner who
came from a family of well-connected officials, told Jing outright: "They
are doing this because some aging official needs an organ."
But Jing sensed something else in the air that fall, something more
substantial: Prisoners were arriving in the middle of the night and disappearing
before dawn. There were transports to "hospital civil defense
structures" with names like Sujiatun and Yida, and practitioners with no
names, only numbers.
It was not a good time to be an angry young practitioner, according to a
refugee in her 30s recently arrived in Hong Kong. She has family in China, so
let's call her Jiansheng Chen. Back in 2002, Chen noticed another pattern. When
the blood tests started, she said, "before signing a statement [renouncing
Falun Gong] the practitioners were all given physicals. After they signed, they
wouldn't get a physical again."
Chen was a "nontransformable"--with an edge. Not only did she
refuse to renounce Falun Gong, but she shouted down anyone who did. Chen was
getting medication three times a day (possibly sedatives), so drug-testing can't
be ruled out. Yet as her resistance dragged on, the police said: "If you
don't transform, we'll send you away. The path you have chosen is the path of
death." For eight days efforts were made to persuade Chen to renounce Falun
Gong or gain her submission by torture. Suddenly the guards ordered her to write
a suicide note. Chen mocked them: "I'm not dead. So why should I sign a
The director brought in a group of military police doctors wearing white
uniforms, male and female. The labor camp police were "very
frightened" at this point, according to Chen. They kept repeating: "If
you still won't transform, what waits for you is a path to death."
Chen was blindfolded. Then she heard a familiar policewoman's voice asking
the doctors to leave for a minute. When they were alone, the policewoman began
pleading with her: "Chen, your life is going to be taken away. I'm not
kidding you. We've been here together all this time, we've made at least some
sort of connection by now. I can't bear to see this--a living person in front of
my eyes about to be wiped out."
Chen stayed silent. She didn't trust the policewoman--why should she? In the
last eight days, she had been hung from the ceiling. She had been burned with
electric batons. She had drunk her own urine. So, the latest nice-nice trick was
unconvincing. Then Chen noticed something dripping on her hand--the
policewoman's tears. Chen allowed that she would think about
transforming. "That's all I need," the policewoman said. After a
protracted argument with the doctors, the police left.
Practitioners like to talk about altering the behavior of police and security
personnel through the power of their own belief. It's a favorite trope. Just as
a prisoner of war is duty bound to attempt escape, a Falun Gong practitioner is
required by his moral code to try to save sentient beings. In this spiritual
calculus, the policeman who uses torture destroys himself, not the practitioner.
If the practitioner can alter the policeman's behavior, by moral example or
supernatural means, there's some natural pride, even if the practitioner still
But practitioners vary. Chen did not tell her story with composure. She
screamed it out cathartically, in a single note of abrasive, consuming fury.
It's also relevant that Chen is not just stubborn, impossible, and a little mad,
but young, attractive, and charismatic. She gave her account of the policewoman
without braggadocio, only abject, shrieking shame at having finally signed a
transformation statement. The policewoman had met a fellow warrior--her tears
Dai Ying is a 50-year-old female refugee living in Sweden. As 2003 began, 180
Falun Gong were tested in Sanshui labor camp. The usual
our-party-especially-cares-for-you speech was followed by X-rays, the drawing of
massive blood samples, cardiograms, urine tests, and then probes: "They had
us lie on [our] stomachs and examined our kidneys. They tapped on them and
ask[ed] us if that hurt."
And that was it--organs only, hold the corneas--a fact that Dai, almost blind
from torture at the time, remembers vividly. Corneas are relatively small-ticket
items, worth perhaps $30,000 each. By 2003, Chinese doctors had mastered the
liver transplant, worth about $115,000 from a foreign customer.
To meet the demand, a new source of supply was needed. Fang Siyi is a
40-year-old female refugee in Bangkok. Incarcerated from 2002 to 2005, Fang was
examined repeatedly and then, in 2003, picked out for special testing in the
Jilin detention center in Northeast China.
Fang had never seen the doctors before: "Upon arriving here, they
changed into labor camp uniforms. But what struck me is that they seemed to be
military doctors." Twelve prisoners had been selected. Fang estimates that
eight were Falun Gong. How did she know? "For Falun Gong, they called them,
Little Faluns." Who were the other four? "[The staff] would say, Here
comes another one of those Eastern Lightning."
Eastern Lightning are Christians--fringy, out-there Chinese Christians to us,
incurable, nontransformable deviants to the party. Jing, too, remembers Eastern
Lightning being given blood tests in 2002, but Fang remembers the Jilin exam as
far more focused: "The additional examinations would just be blood tests,
electro-cardiograms, and X-rays, nothing else. It was Falun Gong practitioners
Compassion fatigue seeping in? I'll keep this short.
"Masanjia Confidential" has family in China, so prudence dictates
mentioning only that she's about 40 and is in Bangkok. Her experience takes us
into what I call the "Late Harvest Era" of 2005, when many
practitioners seem to have been whisked off to wham-bam organ exams and then
promptly disappeared. When I asked her if anyone in Masanjia Labor Camp actually
received medical treatment, she responded without missing a beat: "If
people came in on a stretcher, they were given cursory treatment. In good
health, a comprehensive exam ...... They needed healthy people, young people. If
you were an auntie in your 60s or 70s they wouldn't pay attention to you."
Were there military personnel present at the physicals? "They didn't
need them. Masanjia is very close to Sujiatun [hospital]--a pretty quick drive.
If they needed someone they could just tie them up and send them over ......
Usually they were taken at night."
In 2007, Yu Xinhui, free after five years in Guangdong prison, signed
himself, his wife, and their infant son up for a foreign trip with a Chinese
tour group. Upon arriving in Bangkok, they fled to the YMCA and applied for U.N.
refugee status. Yu is in his 30s, the picture of robust health. While in prison,
he was tested repeatedly, finally graduating to an "organs-only" exam
under military supervision in 2005.
Yu makes a good show of indulging my questions, but to him it was never a big
mystery: "There was common knowledge of organ harvesting in the prison
...... Even before you die, your organs are already reserved." Criminal
prisoners would taunt the practitioners: "If you don't do what we say we'll
torture you to death and sell your organs." That sounds like a stupid game,
but everyone knew there was a real list: Prisoners and practitioners alike would
be taken away on an annual schedule. Yu knew which month the buses would arrive
and where they would park in the courtyard. He gave me a tour of the exact spot
on Google Earth.
When Falun Gong's claims about organ harvesting surfaced in March 2006, Yu
still languished in prison, incommunicado. So it's all the more interesting that
he vividly remembers a large, panicky deportation of prisoners (perhaps 400
people, including practitioners) in May 2006. "It was terrifying," Yu
says. "Even I was terrified." The timing is consistent: With all the
bad publicity, mainland doctors were hinting at a close-of-business sale on
organs at exactly this time.
By 2007, the consensus was that the Chinese government had shut down Falun
Gong harvesting to avoid any embarrassing new disclosures before the Olympics.
So my final case must be viewed as borderline, a comprehensive medical exam
followed by ...... well, judge for yourself.
Liu Guifu is a 48-year-old woman recently arrived in Bangkok. She got a
soup-to-nuts physical--really a series of them--in Beijing Women's Labor Camp in
2007. She was also diagnosed as schizophrenic and possibly given drugs.
But she remembers her exams pretty well. She was given three urine tests in a
single month. She was told to drink fluids and refrain from urinating until she
got to the hospital. Was this testing for diabetes or drugs? It can't be ruled
out. But neither can kidney-function assessment. And three major blood samples
were drawn in the same month, at a cost of about $1,000. Was the labor camp
concerned about Liu's health? Or the health of a particular organ? Perhaps an
organ that was being tissue-matched with a high-ranking cadre or a rich foreign
The critical fact is that Liu was both a member of a nontransformed Falun
Gong brigade with a history of being used for organs and was considered mentally
ill. She was useless, the closest approximation we have to a nameless
practitioner, one of the ones who never gave their names or provinces to the
authorities and so lost their meager social protections.
There were certainly hundreds, perhaps thousands, of practitioners identified
by numbers only. I've heard that number two hundred and something was a talented
young female artist with nice skin, but I don't really know. None of them made
it out of China alive.
None of them likely will. Tibetan sources estimate that 5,000 protesters
disappeared in this year's crackdown. Many have been sent to Qinghai, a
potential center of organ harvesting. But that's speculative. Both the Taiwanese
doctors who investigate organ harvesting and those who arrange transplants for
their Taiwanese patients agree on one point: The closing ceremony of the
Olympics made it once again open season for harvesting.
Some in the human rights community will read that last assertion with
skepticism. Until there is countervailing evidence, however, I'll bet on
bargain-basement prices for organs in China. I confess, I feel a touch of
burnout myself at this thought. It's an occupational hazard.
It's why I told that one-night-in-Bangkok joke to get you to read beyond the
first paragraph. Yet what's really laughable is the foot-dragging, formalistic,
faintly embarrassed response of so many to the murder of prisoners of conscience
for the purpose of harvesting their organs. That's an evil crime.
Washington faces its own imperatives: The riptide of Chinese financial power
is strong. Those in government do not want to hear about Falun Gong and genocide
at a time of financial crisis, with China holding large numbers of U.S. bonds.
So the story continues to founder under the lead weight of American political
and journalistic apathy. At least the Europeans have given it some air. They can
afford to. They aren't the leader of the free world.
It will be argued--quietly, of course--that America has no point of easy
leverage, no ability to undo what has been done, no silver bullet that can
change the Chinese regime. Perhaps not, but we could ban Americans from getting
organ transplants in China. We could boycott Chinese medical conferences. Sever
medical ties. Embargo surgical equipment. And refuse to hold any diplomatic
summits until the Chinese put in place an explicit, comprehensive database of
every organ donor in China.
We may have to live with the Chinese Communist party, for now. For that
matter, we can console ourselves that there are no bones, for now. There will be
none until the party falls and the Chinese people begin to sift through the
graves and ashes.
We are all allowed a touch of compassion fatigue--it's understandable. But
make no mistake: There are terrible lizards. And now that the Olympic
Games are over, and the cameras have turned away, they roam the earth again.