Christians meeting in “house churches” in China are amongst thousands of Chinese people “considered expendable” by the Chinese government and being used in the “harvesting” of organs, according to China watcher Ethan Gutmann.

Gutmann, who has written two books about China and published several reports, said as many as 100,000 organ transplants may be taking place annually in the country, despite the Chinese government’s claims it administers only 10,000.

And the source for the “majority” of these, Gutmann said, are Falun Gong adherents, but also other “expendable” citizens such as Tibetans, Uighurs and Christians.

Gutmann, speaking at the UK Parliament on 30 November as part of an event titled, ‘China’s Darkest Moment: The Crackdown on Human Rights under Xi Jinping’, added that so-called “organ tourists” from several Western nations were amongst the recipients of the organs, although several countries have banned their patients from undergoing transplants in China.

Gutmann gave the example of one unnamed man from the UK, whom he said had been sent by the British health service to receive an organ in a hospital in Xi’an, China.

British MP Fiona Bruce, chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, then told the audience: “Organ tourism from this country should not happen”.

However, a spokesperson for the charity Open Doors, who did not wish to be identified, said: “From our experiences over the past decades, we never heard Christians were targeted for organ harvesting. But as Christians account for more than 5% of China’s population, I am not surprised if some Christians faced such tragic experiences by chance.”

In October, Reuters reported that the director of the China Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee, had said “100 per cent” of organ donors were voluntary and that the government had “zero tolerance” regarding organ harvesting.

China’s darkest moment?

Benedict Rogers, the vice chair of the Commission, speaking at the 30 Nov. event, said that in the 24 years in which he has been watching the country, he has “never seen a period in which human rights have deteriorated so rapidly in such a short space of time as they have in the last three years”.

He said that China has “always had a very bad human rights record”, but that there were hopes that its economic development and international ties may lead to improvements.

The front page of the Conservative Party's Human Rights Commission's June 2016 report.
The front page of the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission’s June 2016 report.

The reality, he said, is that China is “severely regressing” under President Xi Jinping and is now in its “darkest moment”.

A day before the event, long-term Christian political prisoner Peng Ming died in custody while serving a life sentence for “terrorist activities”. Meanwhile, Jian Tianyong is one of several lawyers currently missing in China. The Christians human rights defender hasn’t been seen since 21 November.

Rogers referred to the “tightening of restrictions, even further, on religious practice”, a reference to the government’s recently announced amendments to its rules regulating religious affairs.

He concluded that “under Xi Jinping, the barbarians are in charge… It falls to us to stand up for the Chinese people”.

Rogers then read out a statement from Angela Gui, the UK-based daughter of a Hong Kong publisher being detained in China, who said she felt “lucky” to live in a country in which she could speak out against injustice, and said “we need to speak up for those people who can’t”.

Yaxue Cao, founder and editor of US-based, speaking via video link, told the audience that freedom of expression has been further squeezed since Xi came to power, while there has been an increase of propaganda suggesting “foreign governments are trying to instigate a Cultural Revolution in China”.