Capital Punishment In China: Death Vans & Organ Harvesting

by Baoru, posted in News & Issues

A news report by The Associated Press said that China still remains as the world’s top executioner. China accounted for at least 5,000 executions which is around 87.3% of the total number of executions world wide.

This news was followed by reports stating that the Supreme People’s Court is moving to restrict the number of death sentences and imposing stricter legislations with regards to capital punishment.

It was just a few weeks ago that Beijing agreed to phase out firing squad executions in favor of lethal injections.

One of the more gruesome reports came after Jiang Yong, a local planning official was found to be taking bribes. He gets death penalty and not just by any typical lethal injection.


In chilling echoes of the ‘gas-wagon’ project pioneered by the Nazis to slaughter criminals, the mentally ill and Jews, this former member of the China People’s Party will be handcuffed to a so-called ‘humane’ bed and executed inside a gleaming new, hi-tech, mobile ‘death van.’

After trials of the mobile execution service were launched quietly three years ago – then hushed up to prevent an international row about the abuse of human rights before the Olympics last summer – these vehicles are now being deployed across China.

Developed by Jinguan Auto, which also makes bullet-proof limousines for the new rich in this vast country of 1.3 billion people, the vans appear unremarkable.

They cost £60,000, can reach top speeds of 80mph and look like a police vehicle on patrol. Inside, however, the ‘death vans’ look more like operating theatres.

Executions are monitored by video to ensure they comply with strict rules, making it possible to describe precisely how Jiang Yong will die. After being sedated at the local prison, he will be loaded into the van and strapped to an electric-powered stretcher.

This then glides automatically towards the centre of the van, where doctors will administer three drugs: sodium thiopental to cause unconsciousness; pancuronium bromide to stop breathing and, finally, potassium chloride to stop the heart.

According to the report, executions are expected to rise into the 10,000’s this year. Well, the current state of capital punishment in the country begs to differ.

What is gruesome is what comes after death–

Inside each ‘death van’ there is a dedicated team of doctors to ‘harvest’ the organs of the deceased. The injections leave the body intact and in pristine condition for such lucrative work.

After checking that the victim is dead, the medical team first remove the eyes. Then, wearing surgical gowns and masks, they remove the kidney, liver, pancreas and lungs.

Little goes to waste, though the heart cannot be used, having been poisoned by the drugs.

The organs are dispatched in ice boxes to hospitals in the sprawling cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, which have developed another specialist trade: selling the harvested organs.

China death vanSounds like some urban legend? Well, and I thought organ harvesting is illegal. But apparently, criminals (maybe due to their insistence in disobeying the law) are not part of the law anyway.

It is not difficult to get a death sentence in China. From tax evasion to tax fraud, those are actually enough for one to face the death van.

But right now, if you are planning to take on some serious offense in China, you could breathe a sigh of relief–sort of.

What do you think brought about the change of heart in China? Is it due to the insistence of human rights group or is it something else?

Do you think capital punishment can serve to discipline the people?

Cypher says:

August 3, 2009 at 1:17 am

Take organs from executed prisoner…My mother took part in that when she once was the chief of nurses in local hospital,but the organs are not for sale-only when organs were badly needed by patients.

That was in the early 90s,back then there was no concept of organ donation here,so few organs were available.In order to save the patient,the hospital staff contacted the prison,then the prison arranged a meeting between the prisoner and the representative of the hospital.The hospital representative had to persuade the criminal to write a will,stating that he/she is willing to donate his/her organs.Guess what,in most cases the prisoners were more than happy to do that.May be like the old saying goes:”When you’re going to die,you tend to talk good.”

Then on the day of execution,after confirmed the death of the criminal,the hospital staff move the body into their ambulance and take the organs according to the criminal’s will and put them to good use.Also the remaining of the body was legally treated.

This is what I know.

That was almost 20 years ago and seriously AFAIK,there’s still no national law about organ donation in place here,so I expect some misbehavior.And look how people from all around the world come here for their quick and affordable organ fix.Geez…

Either the higher ups make a proper law or the biology geeks do a better job.Well,way to go.


stuart says:

August 3, 2009 at 4:44 am

“And look how people from all around the world come here for their quick and affordable organ fix.”

It’s immoral both ways: there’s a reason people go to China for a new liver or kidney, and still more reasons why they don’t have to wait very long once they’ve paid.


Khengsiong says:

August 4, 2009 at 8:39 am

Very interesting, if gruesome, story…

Wondering why they have this kind of ‘death vans’. For parade to the public?

While organ donation is admirable, it should be voluntary. Organ harvesting, as described here, is unacceptable.

I have read that there have been cases whereby Chinese were executed for poaching. It sounds like animal life is more precious than human life.


Cypher says:

August 4, 2009 at 3:38 pm

It is to prevent the criminals’ friends from break them away when they are being transported to the execution site:So they make the execution site mobile and drive them in to prisons to do their job,secure and convenient.And by the way,public execution is no longer the “fashion” here so the vans are not for parade.

And yeah,human lives are kinda like money,valuable and all that,but when you got too many around,you gonna have some kind of inflation.

Then the “animal vs. human” part,when one of my friends got fired,his boss said:”It’s hard to find a three-leged toad,but two-leged men are more than enough.”Well,too many people and suddenly you find yourself become a replaceable digit.

It may sounds a bit disturbing to your overseas guys,but it’s the cold,hard reality here…sigh…


Alex Hofford says:

August 4, 2009 at 11:34 am

At least they don’t have ‘death trains’ yet! Hehehe…


Baoru says:

August 5, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Haha. This comment’s a winner! Just to bring in some humor, though yes, this isn’t really a light topic–death trains would be more efficient, don’t you think so?


Cypher says:

August 5, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Then the main advantage of the van-the mobility-will be no more.
And by the way it’s not that good a joke if you ask me…


Alex Hofford says:

August 9, 2009 at 11:56 pm

It seems this story is not that new.

USA today reported it in 2006.

Even the photo is the same.