US Could Do ‘Much More’ to Combat Forced Organ Harvesting in China: Rep. Chris Smith

By Danella Pérez Schmieloz
Danella Pérez Schmieloz
Danella Pérez Schmieloz
China Reporter
July 19, 2023Updated: July 20, 2023

The United States must ramp up efforts to combat the Chinese regime’s industrial-scale murder of prisoners of conscience for their organs, according to Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.).

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “supply chain for organs” is “being so terribly procured by killing young people: Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, some Christians, and Buddhists in Tibet,” said Mr. Smith at a House Committee of Foreign Affairs hearing on religious freedom on July 18.

“We could do much more. We need a robust effort on sanctioning Xi Jinping’s horrific behavior,” Rep. Smith told NTD, the sister media outlet of The Epoch Times, after the hearing, referring to the CCP’s paramount leader.

The Chinese regime has been committing forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience for years, and on a substantial scale, concluded the China Tribunal —an independent people’s tribunal—in its final judgment, released in 2019.

The tribunal also concluded that detained Falun Gong practitioners were likely the main source of such organs. Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities in northwest China are also at risk, along with Tibetans and House Christians, experts have said.

“They are targeted because they are hated, and they are hated because of their religious beliefs,” Mr. Smith said during the hearing.

“Forced organ harvesting is an atrocity reminiscent of the Nazis, and it’s happening tens of thousands of times every year,” he added.

Holding the CCP Accountable

Allegations of the communist regime killing Falun Gong practitioners to sell their organs for transplant first emerged in 2006. Since then, numerous investigations have confirmed grisly details of this atrocity.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline involving meditative exercises and moral teaching based on three core principles, truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. The practice gained popularity in China during the 1990s, with estimates putting the number of adherents at 70 million to 100 million.

Fearing this posed a threat to its authoritarian control, the communist regime launched a sweeping campaign aimed at eradicating the practice starting on July 20, 1999, a program that continues today. Since then, millions have been detained in prisons, labor camps, and other facilities, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center. Inside these facilities, adherents are tortured and face being killed for their organs.

Organ harvesting is a lucrative business for the CCP. During a 2021 hearing before the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, Geoffrey Nice, who chaired the China Tribunal, said the Chinese regime could obtain up to half a million dollars from each victim’s body.

“The administration has to do more; we have to do more. I hope the U.N. and everyone else joins in that effort,” said Mr. Smith at the Tuesday hearing.

In March, the House of Representatives passed a bill to punish the CCP’s forced organ harvesting, the first of its kind.

The Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2023 (H.R. 1154), introduced by Mr. Smith, would sanction anyone involved in the act and require annual government reporting on such activities taking place in foreign countries. Sanctions include a civil penalty of up to $250,000, and a criminal penalty of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison.

Smith mentioned the bill is still pending in the Senate.

He referred to another bill he introduced (H.R. 7193), that would strip Beijing of its trade privileges with the United States, conditioning its normal trade relations status to the human rights situation in China.

If enacted into law, China would require annual affirmation by the U.S. president that Beijing is making considerable progress in the improvement of its human rights record to achieve this trade status.

“No more slaps on the wrists of Xi Jinping. He needs to be held to account. And I think severe economic sanctions is the only tangible way to do it,” the congressman said at the hearing.

A ‘Safe Haven’

Mr. Smith further referenced a recent incident of Beijing’s transnational repression of Falun Gong practitioners on U.S. soil.

The FBI recently arrested two individuals charged with operating a secret overseas police station in New York City on behalf of the CCP. They were accused of conspiring to work as agents and taking orders from the regime to silence Chinese dissidents living in the United States, Falun Gong practitioners in particular.

“We need to be far more aggressive than we have been, the FBI needs to spend more time on this,” he said.

“My hope is that the United States would truly be a safe haven for those who have fled this tyranny, not a place where the bad guys could come with impunity and do terrible things to believers and to Falun Gong practitioners,” he said.

Eva Fu and Michael Washburn, and NTD reporter Sam Wang contributed to this report.