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Rubio, Smith to Blinken: Halt Communist China’s Illegal Organ Trade

May 8, 2024 | Press Releases

The U.S. State Department has funded programs to obtain information on the forced organ harvesting trade in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). However, the State Department has yet to use existing and available resources to their full potential.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging him to use all available resources and to prioritize the disruption of this vicious and inhumane practice.

Joining Senator Rubio and Representative Smith were Representatives Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Michelle Steel (R-CA), Zach Nunn (R-IA) and Ryan Zinke (R-MT).

  • “Getting the PRC to account and fully address evidence of forced organ harvesting will be critical in ending this horrific practice and promoting, long term, the establishment of a truly voluntary organ donation system. With effective enforcement mechanisms, we can work towards ensuring organs are procured safely and ethically. We look forward to engaging you on this important matter.”

The full text of the letter is below. 

Dear Secretary Blinken, 

As commissioners of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), we request that you utilize U.S. State Department rewards programs to seek information that will ultimately hold those individuals engaged in the gruesome practice of human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal (forced organ harvesting) in the People’s Republic China (PRC) accountable. This effort would also disrupt and deter a lucrative market in illegally procured organs.

The United States Congress has appropriated funding for various State Department programs that provide rewards for actionable information on terrorism, atrocities, and transnational crime. These may be used to gain information on individuals complicit in “crimes against humanity” and “severe forms of human trafficking in persons.” There has been no effort to seek evidence on individuals complicit in forced organ harvesting or the organ trafficking industry using these funds, despite the impressive amount of testimony amassed by the Independent People’s Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience in China in its March 2020 final judgment. The Tribunal concluded that the PRC’s estimated $1 billion organ trafficking industry harvests organs from executed prisoners and political prisoners, at an industrial scale, actions it concluded constitute crimes against humanity.

In response to the Tribunal’s findings, 12 United Nations Special Procedures mandate holders said they were “extremely alarmed” by credible reports that suggest forced organ harvesting in China is “targeting specific ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities” who are detained across the country, including Uyghurs, Tibetans, Muslims, Christians, and Falun Gong practitioners. In 2022, the American Journal of Transplantation published a peer-reviewed article that demonstrated Chinese surgeons sometimes served as executioners, harvesting organs from prisoners who had not been declared brain dead. This violates the internationally accepted “dead-donor” rule that states organ procurement “must not commence until the donor is both dead and formally pronounced so.” Forced organ harvesting is an atrocity and the disruption and deterrence of this practice should be a priority of the State Department.

We strongly support the Department of State’s efforts to issue rewards for wildlife and narcotics trafficking in the PRC. However, given the global demand for organ transplants and the evidence of the illegal trafficking of organs in the PRC, there is a pressing need to uncover first-hand information from those who witnessed or engaged in the practice. 

Getting the PRC to account and fully address evidence of forced organ harvesting will be critical in ending this horrific practice and promoting, long term, the establishment of a truly voluntary organ donation system. With effective enforcement mechanisms, we can work towards ensuring organs are procured safely and ethically. We look forward to engaging you on this important matter. 

Sincerely,