Lax Oversight, Corruption Raise Concern Over China’s Bioethics Practices, Potential Impacts To Medicine

Foreign Policy: China Will Always Be Bad at Bioethics
Yangyang Cheng, postdoctoral research associate at Cornell University’s Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based Sciences and Education (CLASSE) and member of the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider

“…As China’s advances in biotechnology come closer to the secrets of life, they pose tantalizing prospects for the future. But when standards for research on the latest technological frontiers are being set by a government that has always prioritized power over ethics, there’s also plenty of cause for concern. … [M]any of the country’s rules and regulations, as in other fields, exist more on paper than in practice. While the Chinese Communist Party has a branch office at every school and every hospital, the presence of ethics boards is optional. … The fragile bioethics system in China is further weakened by rampant corruption. … And in medicine, as with much else in China, authorities will often evade laws that exist on paper if there are customers (or, in this case, patients) willing to pay. … The willingness to overlook safety for financial gain hints at a greater challenge with bioethics in China — not just structural, but ideological. Authoritarian states naturally prioritize the strength of their own power, including the size of their economy, above all else; this runs contrary to, and inevitably undermines, the healing purpose of medicine” (4/13).

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