Gruesome Stories from China Prompt Push to Cancel Trade
While all eyes are on the mysterious spy balloon above Montana, it’s no secret what’s happening inside the country that sent it. China, when it isn’t busy invading U.S. airspace, is torturing its own people and operating an organ harvesting ring that no horror movie could do justice. For years, the personal stories have been pouring out of Xi Jinping’s country — and it’s past time, one U.S. congressman says, to do something about it.
“In plain sight, he is committing a genocide,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said of Xi. The New Jersey congressman ought to know, having chaired 76 congressional hearings on the human rights crises in China. Smith’s 40-plus years in Congress have been defined by his crusade to hold the communist country accountable for the atrocities it commits against its own people. Now, years into the knowledge that China is herding millions of people into concentration camps for their beliefs, his cries for action have only grown more urgent.
“I’m no prophet,” Smith told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on “Washington Watch,” but he did a press conference in 1994 when President Bill Clinton delinked human rights from trade, “and everything I said there has come true.” Back then, the argument for giving China “most favored nation” status was because people thought that our economic partnership would bring about a greater appreciation in China for human rights and freedom. Maybe, some believed, our democratic values would rub off. But 29 years later, it isn’t China that’s changed. It’s us.
“We have changed,” Smith argued, “particularly the corporate mentality in this country to pander — to do whatever they can to get cheap products and cheap labor with very little or no protections, like occupational safety. So there’s a lot of people who die in China while they’re making products. All of that plus … the ever worsening organ harvesting issue.” We’re talking about a Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Smith pointed out, that is literally killing people for their body parts. People like “Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, Christians, Catholics, and Tibetan Buddhists.”
The average age, Smith says, is 28, and they harvest from up to “100,000 people per year — and that number is going up.” “[They] take their organs — two to three per person. It is barbaric. It is Nazi-like. It’s going on right now. And they target the healthiest people, who happen to be religious people or Falun Gong practitioners, because of their lifestyle and because they have an extreme prejudice against them.”
Eye witnesses have shocked the West with the harrowing stories, confirming, as Gulbahar Jeliova has, Americans’ worst fears. When she first came to the camps, she was in the hospital after a beating (which was routine for new prisoners), and she noticed young girls dressed in orange uniforms. It was a sign, another woman told her, that they were being taken “to sleep.” That’s odd, Gulbahar thought. Why can’t they sleep in their rooms?
Because, the other patient explained, these girls were being put to sleep “forever.”
For weeks, Gulbahar would watch the young and healthy prisoners be divided into groups. It usually happened after a medical examination, Gulbahar told the Uyghur Tribunal. They were roused by guards in the middle of the night and taken, never to be seen again.
Human rights advocates, who’ve been following this gruesome trade through every province in China, think they know why. “It’s organ harvesting,” Nina Shea told Perkins on “Washington Watch last year. “Forcible harvesting of religious minorities’ body organs. It’s unbelievable, absolutely ghastly. … Their organs are being excised — their hearts, their livers, their kidneys, their corneas — and sold for a profit throughout China. It’s been going on for 20 years…”
Perkins has written about some of the more gruesome accounts, having followed the issue closely during his time on the U.S. International Commission on Religious Freedom:
“[Routinely], witnesses say, doctors would be paged in the middle of the night to come to their hospitals. New truckloads of dissidents would have arrived — Falun Gong, usually, but sometimes Uyghurs or Christians. Annie, who escaped to the U.S., talked about her husband, a brain surgeon, who used to wake up from horrible nightmares of the things he’d been asked to do to living, breathing people. Her husband, she says, forcibly removed over 2,000 corneas alone. ‘Every time he did this, he got lots of money and cash awards — several dozen times his normal salary… hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars,’ she explains.
But the personal toll was steep. He would wake up screaming and terrified. ‘He would stare blankly at the TV,’ Annie remembers. ‘When our child or I touched him, he would shriek. I found him becoming abnormal. He told me, ‘You have no idea of my agony. These Falun Gong practitioners were alive. It would be okay if we removed organs from dead bodies, but these people were truly alive.’
One medical student from China says he still replays the day over and over in his mind when he was drafted to be part of an organ-harvesting team at Shenyang Army General Hospital. “The young prisoner was brought in, tied hand and foot, but very much alive. The army doctor in charge sliced him open from chest to belly button and exposed his two kidneys. ‘Cut the veins and arteries,’ he told his shocked intern.” The young man did what he was told. When it came time to remove his eyeballs, he froze. He was so unnerved that he fled, moved to Canada, and started living under a different identity.
Ethan Gutmann, who’s been tracking the horror story since the mid-90s, has managed to locate ‘nine industrial-scale crematoria in Xinjiang, too large to be dealing only with the local population. One such crematorium was found to be within minutes of two camps.’ The communist regime would need incinerators of that size if the numbers the U.N. has uncovered are accurate. More than 100,000 transplants have been facilitated over these past several years, Gutmann believes, meaning that Chinese doctors are performing surgeries within one or two weeks. Here in the U.S., Shea says, the average waiting time for a kidney is four years.”
In China, Shea says, “the way it works is that you call up and say, ‘I need a kidney,’ and they say, ‘Come on in.’ And within days or weeks, you get a kidney that’s a perfect match. And if it isn’t, they keep trying...” Researchers have even archived ads that Chinese hospitals are sending to places like Japan, saying “our organs are better because they’re from live donors. They’re much better than cadaver donor organs.”
America is enabling this suffering by refusing to draw a line in the economic sand. Instead, we’re giving China every possible financial advantage. “The time has come,” Smith insists, “to say to China: ‘We’ll trade with you, but with conditionality, [with] human rights [reforms].’ And I’m going to push very hard for it.”
Under his bill, the CCP would be stripped of its trade privileges until it shuts down its concentration camps, stops harvesting prisoners’ organs, and ceases “economic espionage.” “America should never let genocide and slave labor become a ‘permanent’ or ‘normal’ part of U.S. trade,” co-sponsor Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) said in Smith’s press release. “It’s time we stopped overlooking widespread human rights abuses as just the ‘cost of doing business’ in Communist China …”
Across the Capitol, four senators — Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) — have introduced a companion bill called the China Trade Relations Act.
At the International Religious Freedom Summit in D.C. this week, the children of Uyghurs who’ve either vanished into China’s camps or cut off ties to save lives, pleaded with the U.S. to do something. Kazzat Altay, who relayed the grim situation in Xinjiang to the Christian Post, insisted that President Biden isn’t doing enough. “He’s not tough on China. … I believe that he is hesitant to make China angry.” But “we need to pass more bills to make sure that doing business with China is not easy.”
Fortunately for him, Chris Smith agrees. And if the last 40 years have taught us anything, it’s that he won’t rest until America holds China accountable.
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.