Canadian-Chinese actress Anastasia Lin has urged Australia to intervene in alleged “transplant abuse” in China.
The actress and human rights advocate has also raised questions about an exhibition of Chinese body parts on display in Sydney.
Lin gave evidence to a parliamentary committee investigating organ trafficking and organ transplant tourism.
She told a hearing in Canberra her work researching for acting roles in films about organ harvesting had revealed state-sanctioned human rights violations in China.
“Transplant abuse in China is a deeply ingrained systematic state-sanctioned crime,” Lin told the inquiry.
“Unlike anywhere else in the world, the abuse occurs within the very institutions that are meant to instil confidence and trust — the hospitals.”
Lin said Australians were among the transplant tourists who go to China for procedures.
“Western democratic nations have the ability and the duty to intervene,” she said.
“Legislations can be used to protect local citizens and no doubt to be a deterrent to discourage a country’s citizens from being a part of this abuse.”
Lin has previously confirmed she is a practitioner of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa.
In its submission to the parliamentary inquiry, the Falun Dafa Association of Australia claimed its practitioners detained in China because of their beliefs had been a “source of vital organs”.
“The majority of Falun Gong practitioners are incarcerated without judicial process, and harvesting their organs is carried out through the collaboration of detention, police, military and hospital facilities,” the submission claimed.
‘They say this is all complete nonsense’
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was represented at Friday’s hearing.
First assistant secretary of the north Asia division Graham Fletcher was asked whether such concerns had been raised with the Chinese Government.
“The idea that there is a separate, parallel, hidden, vast network of unspeakable activity where people are essentially killed for their organs — we don’t believe that that is happening,” he said.
Labor senator Claire Moore asked for clarification about whether the prospect was raised as part of the “human rights dialogue” with China.
“They say this is all complete nonsense,” Mr Fletcher said.
Mr Fletcher said China seemed serious about changing its organ donation system so it no longer relied on executed prisoners.
Technically that practice has been ruled out, but last year a senior Chinese medical official admitted it may still be happening.
“[Chinese authorities] realise why that doesn’t look very good at all,” Mr Fletcher said.
“I’d say there’s probably a few rough edges around that system, it’s a very big country.”
Organ exhibition questioned
Lin also criticised the Real Bodies exhibition of human bodies and body parts on show in Sydney at the moment.
“These are human bodies and they were human beings who once lived and breathed,” she said.
She said such body parts had been sold to medical schools and universities throughout the western world.
“Plastination gives the immediate, widespread, publicly-visible reality to the abuse that is perhaps tens of thousands of times bigger,” Lin said.
Senator Moore noted a number of people raised concerns about the exhibition during the committee hearing.
“These are real people who have died and are now being presented covered in a plastic form as part of art,” Senator Moore said.
“It’s something we should look at.”
Imagine Exhibitions put on the display, which has also toured in the United States and the United Kingdom.
It includes 20 preserved bodies and 200 anatomical specimens.
Imagine Exhibitions president Tom Zaller told the ABC all of the specimens were acquired by legal means in China.
He said Falun Gong had raised the same concerns in the past.
“We have been investigated by attorneys, by health inspectors, medical professionals, and every time every inspection has gone on fine and the exhibition has been able to continue,” Mr Zaller said.
He said claims the bodies or body parts were from persecuted prisoners were “fake news”.
“What [Falun Gong] are doing is, we have an exhibition that people enjoy, they use that promotional opportunity to talk about their claims against a country about organ harvesting,” he said.
“One has nothing to do with the other.
“If you are talking about harvesting organs for transplant, why would you plastinate them and put them on display?”
He said anyone with evidence to the contrary should put it forward publicly.
“There is ultimate dignity and respect used in every sense of our exhibition,” Mr Zaller said.
By Anna Henderson