The death of a former Chinese deputy cultural minister amid the country’s COVID explosion would perhaps have attracted little public attention if not for a short-lived obituary.
With his “sharp mind and a booming voice,” the “spry” Gao Zhanxiang didn’t “at all resemble a patient” before the COVID surge, wrote Zhu Yongxin, deputy secretary general of the 12th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the Party’s top political advisory body. “I never imagined that he would leave us so soon.”
But in his condolences, Zhu might have revealed a little more than he desired. The 87-year-old, as he noted, had “replaced many organs in his body” as he “tenaciously fought with illness,” to the point that the former official once joked that “many components are not his own anymore.”
The article caused a stir on Chinese social media Weibo despite its swift deletion. Keen-eyed observers produced copies before censors got to work, circulating them in disbelief over Gao’s alleged extensive organ transplant history and the casual way in which Zhu had mentioned it.
It is widely known that senior Chinese Communist Party officials enjoy a raft of privileges from top-tier medical treatment to special schools for their offspring. But the apparent ease with which Gao was able to access multiple matching organs, each of which could cost a lifetime’s earnings for a regular Chinese citizen, raises troubling questions in a country already scrutinized for the regime’s organ transplant abuses.
“Minister Gao, when living, you changed so many organs, where did they all come from? And how many more high officials are there who can effortlessly change their failed organs?” one person commented online.
“Those ‘parts’ that he got so easily, who would have lost them and how?”
State-Led Forced Organ Harvesting
A latecomer to the field, China has seen a boom in the organ transplant industry over the past two decades despite a low number of voluntary donors. The regime has claimed that since 2015, it has relied exclusively on a voluntary organ donation system after it said that it stopped using organs from death-row prisoners.
But the numbers don’t add up.
By Eva Fu