Beauty products with Chinese characteristics?

Posted by Martyn (titled by Richard).

One of the most bizarre reports I’ve read in a long time. Hat-tip to commenter Keir for the link. The title of this UK Guardian Special Report says it all: The beauty products from the skin of executed Chinese prisoners:

A Chinese cosmetics company is using skin harvested from the corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe, an investigation by the Guardian has discovered.

Agents for the firm have told would-be customers it is developing collagen for lip and wrinkle treatments from skin taken from prisoners after they have been shot. The agents say some of the company’s products have been exported to the UK, and that the use of skin from condemned convicts is “traditional” and nothing to “make such a big fuss about.”

The report is partly based on anecdotal evidence collected by a researcher posing as a potential customer which claims that the company in question is trying to develop beauty products using tissue from executed prisoners and aborted foetuses. Also, no specific products are mentioned only that the Chinese company has ‘exported collagen products before to the UK, US and Europe’.

The investigation was launched following rumours among UK and US plastic surgeons, some of who have visited China to observe transplant techniques, regarding the use of tissue harvested from executed prisoners.

In addition, in 2001, Dr. Wang Guoqi, a Chinese former military physician, told US congressmen that he had worked at execution grounds helping surgeons to harvest the organs of executed prisoners, without prior consent. At the time, the Chinese government publicly called Dr. Wang a liar.

I will remain slightly skeptical until I see some hard evidence rather than just the words of a Chinese company sales rep and a Chinese exile reporting to a Congressional Human R1ghts committee. The investigation lacks any of the evidence necessary to make the report as damning as the title suggests.

The Discussion: 17 Comments

I put this story in the same category as I put all the cannibalism stories from china: Bullshit

Lot’s of crap is happening in this country, there is really no need to invent stuff…

September 13, 2005 @ 11:58 am | Comment

the bastion of serious journalism in australia, The Age, is reporting this as fact

“A CHINESE cosmetics company is using skin harvested from corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products.”

pretty much a cut+paste from the Guardian

anyway, i’m out to by some running dog’s collagen and pump up my lips

September 13, 2005 @ 12:11 pm | Comment

This might be true, perhaps more so, perhaps less so, BUT as far as the “evidence” is concerned at the moment, we have three sources:

1. An undercover journalist posing as a customer sent to sniff out a story about the bodies of executed Chinese prisoners being used to make cosmetics. Who does he/she speak to? A company sales rep or at least someone who wants to sell him stuff.

2. The gossip of plastic surgeons, some of whom have even been to China.

3. A Chinese dissident/exile sitting before a Congressional Committee on human r1ghts.

Maybe I’m wrong but potential customers are told what they want to hear, gossip is gossip and who’s ever heard of an exile NOT exaggerating their position and their knowledge?

As a Brit, I think the Guardian should be doing a hell of a lot better then this.

September 13, 2005 @ 1:20 pm | Comment

Coupleof quotes: First from Michael Parmly, principal deputy assistant secretary of state, who told the subcommittee these allegations aren’t new and, while difficult to confirm, the evidence cannot be ignored:
“The lack of transparency in the Chinese criminal justice system and the secrecy that surrounds prison executions and the removal of organs makes actual documentation of the practice impossible. However, the anecdotal and circumstantial evidence regarding the practice of removing organs from executed prisoners for sale to foreigners and wealthy Chinese is substantial, credible and growing.”

Harry Wu, executive director of the Laogai Research Center, a human rights organization said he was imprisoned in China:
“I spent 19 years in the Chinese Laogai camps, a place where the space between life and death is often paper thin. I knew that if I had died in the camps, my family would never be told of my fate. My organs would have been harvested for transplantation into the body of someone else and then the rest of me tossed into a furnace as waste to be disposed of quickly.”

We all accept that executed convicts have their organs taken from them, don’t we? So why is this such a big stretch? After all, the skin is the biggest organ….

September 13, 2005 @ 4:14 pm | Comment

It’s not really a secret that there are cases where organs from executed prisoners in China are harvested for use in transplants. In theory, prisoners donate their organs after their death by making a personal choice just like everybody else, but without a doubt there are many instances where unscrupulous officials bend or break the rules.

What interest me about this story is why collect collagen from executed prisoners. Collagen is not an complex organ like the liver or kidney. It’s a molecule that can be manufactured industrially and the exact same forms of collagen found in the human body can be also found in pigs, cows, dogs, and a great variety of other animals.

Why is this Chinese company not using these other far cheaper and more plentiful sources? Considering that human collagen and pig collagen are exactly identical, what’s the benefit of using human collagen? Looks like the only benefit they got is the free publicity from a reporter who supposedly talked to some anonymous would-be customers that supposedly talked to some anonymous agent.

September 13, 2005 @ 6:57 pm | Comment

Reading the article again, they don’t even name the company, only that it’s a “Chinese” company. So I guess the unnamed Chinese company don’t even get the benefit of the free publicity of such a quality investigative article.

September 13, 2005 @ 7:10 pm | Comment

The SCMP have also run the UK Guardian’s article.

Whether the facts are true or not this kind of thing doesn’t surprise me any more. Nodoby in China seems to have any qualms about mistreating their fellow man, whether it be through environmental pollution, selling fake baby powder, or digging up and selling contaminated pig carcasses.

I am of the opinion that Cultural Revolution is largely to blame for this lack of common humanity.

I wonder if harvsting dead bodies has anything to do with the lack of graveyards in China?

September 13, 2005 @ 9:24 pm | Comment

Uh, Richard, there are two comments in this thread and another one or two over in the open thread that look mighty suspicious… I think you’re being framed…

September 13, 2005 @ 10:51 pm | Comment

Oh, c’mon, you’ve never heard of counterfeiting in China? Those of us with boots on the ground know that it’s monkey skin marinated in human urine.

September 13, 2005 @ 11:15 pm | Comment

Dave, you are totally right. All three comments used different names but the same IP address, and were filled with catch-phrases (“Free Tibbett” and stuff liker that). Clever way to sabotage my comments, and they’re gone. Thanks for alerting me.

September 14, 2005 @ 3:59 am | Comment

Hui Mao

The Chinese company can’t be named for legal reasons. Making these kind of allegations on this evidence is not a place a major newspaper would dare to go.

Keir, Tucker

I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit surprised if this were true. In fact, past experience says that it’s even likely.

My problem is with the evidence. At the moment, it’s simply not good enough. A court of law would not accept this evidence. You can’t make accusations stick because of hearsay, anecdotal evidence and past records.

Perhaps this article will successfully bring the issue into the public arena. It that way, it’s acheived a great deal.

This might well be the start of another “harvesting the organs of Chinese prisoners” scandal as we saw previously.

September 14, 2005 @ 4:04 am | Comment

Looks like the ugliest side of the right-wing blogosphere is pickingup on this story and using it to really bash China. Rather shocking; and I didn’t even know that awful web site even existed anymore.

September 14, 2005 @ 4:38 am | Comment

…and not even one single Trackback? Huh, charming I must say.

September 14, 2005 @ 4:43 am | Comment

Haha, I’ve never heard of the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler Blog before. I liked the ad with the lady shouting “I can’t date another liberal guy again!”. The ad was for ConservativeMatch – “Sweehearts not bleeding hearts”. Classic.

From the post, I liked this paragraph:

“So far, we’ve accomplished to change their status from “murdering, tyrannical, communist swine” to “filthy rich murdering, tyrannical, communist swine.” If that doesn’t bother you much either, then perhaps the fact that keeping them rich, fat and happy has also kept them around will. I don’t think I have to point out what inevitably happens to communist economies and, by extension, their regimes if you leave them to fend for themselves. Just ask the Soviet Union. Oh wait, you can’t. They’re not around anymore.”

September 14, 2005 @ 4:49 am | Comment

He must be getting his PhD in Asian political science. Classic LGF-style bigot.

This kind of story is red meat to the “hate China” crowd. And don’t get me wrong – ther story should be told, but the Rottweiller tears it out of context and makes it symptomatic of all china, like the nationsal pastime is skinning and de-collaging frshly exectuted prisoners, most of them killed for disobeying the one-child policy. What a load of tripe.

September 14, 2005 @ 4:56 am | Comment

The paragraph does beg the question though, what would have happened to the CCP had all of the hundreds of billions of FDI (and subsequent technolgy transfer) NOT have come to China?

HK, Taiwan and the Diaspora kind of made FDI inevitable as HK/Taiwan built Guangdong Province. Still, China would be next to nothing without foreign FDI.

September 14, 2005 @ 5:08 am | Comment

Sorry Martyn, I tried to trackback it for you. Doesn’t seem to have worked.

September 14, 2005 @ 5:09 am | Comment

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