'Shocking': China invited to organ trade meet

Beijing's top official on transplants said on Tuesday Beijing was "mending its ways" from a murky past when organs were taken from detained or executed prisoners. They also added that PAS should reject the claims of China versus organ harvesting until further investigation to prove that it is no longer implemented has been proven. "We hope that the participation of [Huang] does not amount to a coming out party just because they have made these positive initial steps", Wang said.

From the beginning of 2015, China imposed a total ban on the use of executed prisoners' organs for transplantation, Huang said, describing the process as "an arduous journey".

From 2007 to 2016, authorities formed joint task forces, cracked down on 32 intermediaries, investigated 18 medical institutions, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned 174 people, including 50 medical personnel, and eradicated 14 black market dens, he said.

But concerns over the use of organs from executed prisoners persist.

At the summit, more than 70 scientists, experts and officials from different countries and global organizations attended the discussion on organ trafficking and transplant tourism, in a bid to set up further guidelines and ethical rules in curbing illegal activities worldwide.

According to Huang, hundreds of foreigners used to come to China every year for transplant tourism before the Chinese government banned the practice in 2009.

Dr Wendy Rogers, a medical ethics expert at Macquarie University in Australia and the chair of an advisory committee on tackling organ theft in China, slammed Dr Huang's presence as "shocking".

Dr. Torsten Trey told the BBC that there is no reason to trust China's claim that it has ended forced harvesting of executed prisoners without proper due investigation.

The summit painted a disturbing picture of illegal organ trafficking in which laborers and refugees are often exploited for their organs, which can be cheaply bought in countries including Pakistan, India and Egypt.

The pope was expected to meet summit delegates on Tuesday, but the audience did not go ahead amid speculation that the reaction against China's inclusion embarrassed the Vatican as it seeks to re-establish diplomatic relations with Beijing after more than 60 years. As per estimates, almost 3,000 to 7,000 prisoners are executed in China every year.

Victims reportedly include death row prisoners and religious and ethnic minorities such as Uighurs, Tibetans and "underground" Christians.

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