The troubling story of the Falun Gong of China

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Falun Gong is a religious movement in China. It involves the practice of qigong — a mix of meditation, energy exercises and regulated breathing — and is guided by a moral philosophy and the ultimate goal of achieving spiritual enlightenment. Falun Gong, with an estimated seven to 20 million adherents, is a Buddhist-like spiritual group that lives out compassion, truthfulness. patience and tolerance.

In one of my trips to China, I observed from my high-rise hotel room local citizens practicing qigong exercises in the village courtyard. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), however, claims the Falun Gong is evil because it demonstrates cult behavior, instills mind control in individuals, spreads heretical ideas and promotes methods for accumulating wealth — all the while endangering Chinese society. 

In 1999, the CCP decided they had had enough. They organized a secret police unit in June that year similar to the German Gestapo of World War II. I can’t pronounce the Chinese name for this police unit. Informally it became known as the 610 Office.

The assignment of the 610 Office is to persecute and eradicate Falun Gong. And as the late radio commentator Paul Harvey would say, “Here is the rest of the story.” 

In 2000, a Chinese medical doctor, Dr. Zang Yunjin, who trained in the U.S., at the Pittsburgh Medical Center, returned to China to set up an organ transplant program in a national hospital system. His specialty was liver transplants. After he arrived, Chinese hospitals went from rarely doing liver transplants to rocketing to near the top in the world for liver transplants.

Zang became director of organ donation and transplantation for one of the major medical schools, Qingdao University Medical School, and director of the Qingdao University Hospital. He became internationally known as a distinguished organ transplant expert at a number of transplantation hospitals across China. From the time he returned to China until 2019, Zang performed over 2,600 liver transplants!

In the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe, there is a major shortage of donor livers for transplantation with a waiting list the proverbial mile long. Naturally, you have to wonder how Dr. Zang and his colleagues could complete so many transplants given the international shortage of liver donors — and the fact that fewer than 0.6% of Chinese were signing up to be organ donors. Zang and his team developed a method for obtaining transplant organs that circumvented China’s backward traditions surrounding death — not to mention universal moral principles. 

  Wang Lijun, a former high-profile CCP member, patented a machine designed to cause brain death. The Primary Brain Stem Injury Impact Machine (Chinese patent number CN201120542042) was described as a “killing apparatus” for obtaining donor organs.

Remember the “gestapo-esque” police unit, 610 Office? They have been arresting peaceful practitioners of Falun Gong and forcibly sending them to liver transplant hospitals as liver donors for severely ill liver disease patients.

Zang and his team removed the healthy livers from these “dissidents.” Falun Gong believers’ healthy livers were transplanted into recipients who were in liver failure. It’s part of the CCP’s strategy to eliminate Falun Gong practitioners. 

This strategy was also used for patients with kidney failure. Kidney transplants also rose to an all-time high. Falun Gong believers had their kidneys removed then, reportedly, dispatched with Wang Lijun’s killing apparatus prior to being removed from the surgery table.

In 2003, the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) was formed. Its mission was “to investigate the conduct of all institutions, organizations and individuals involved in the persecution of the Falun Gong; no matter how long it takes, no matter how far and deep we have to search, to full closure; to exercise fundamental principles of humanity and to restore and uphold justice in society.”

Between 2004 and 2008, Zang performed 1,600 liver extractions and at least 1,570 liver transplants at the Armed Police General Hospital. Working part-time at Beijing Youan Hospital, Zang tallied 1,001 liver transplants during the same time period, according to WOIPFG. They routinely used the killing apparatus on Falun Gong members as they removed their organs. Photos I’ve seen of Zang and his team’s organ removal operations are horrible. 

One of the early whistle-blowers on these practices was a former employee at Sujiatun Hospital at Shenyang City, the capital of Liaoning Province. Liaoning Province is in northeast China adjacent to North Korea. This whistle-blower divulged these atrocities in 2006. Using the pseudonym Annie, she was fortunate to have escaped capture. She now resides in the U.S.

The epilogue to this story has not yet been written, but the final chapter has. Zang committed suicide on Feb. 26, 2021. He jumped (or was pushed) out of a skyscraper window. He was 57 years old. 

Apparently, dying by “suicide” has become contagious. Jiang Xusheng, 50, a professor of general surgery and liver transplantation, supposedly died by suicide, slashing his own throat and abdomen in his apartment. Yeah, right! Li Leishi, 84, an internationally known kidney and transplant specialist, jumped from his high-rise apartment in Nanjing. Li Baochun, 44, also a renowned kidney transplant doctor, jumped to his death from the hospital’s high-rise kidney transplant center. 

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