The Uighurs were not the only victims of this grotesque "procedure." Gutmann estimates that some 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners had their organs "harvested, their hearts still beating, before the 2008 Olympics." An indeterminate number of Chinese House Christians and Tibetans almost certainly suffered the same fate. Something far worse than garden-variety human rights abuse is going on here, Gutmann concludes: "China, a state rapidly approaching superpower status ... has, for over a decade, perverted the most trusted area of human expertise (i.e., medicine) into performing what is, in the legal parlance of human rights, targeted elimination of a specific group" (Ethan Gutmann, "The Xinjiang Procedure," Weekly Standard, Dec. 5, 2011).
What kind of regime does these sorts of things? A regime that, to put it gently, lives in a very different moral universe--a moral universe the character and consequences of which Thomas Friedman and other Sinophiles might carefully consider. As, indeed, might the Vatican, where one still finds officials eager to establish diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Beijing. Yet surely the Church's role in any possibly humane Chinese future will be built around its steadfastness under persecution and its forthright defense of the human rights of all (including Uighurs, Tibetans, and Falun Gong devotees), not by reaching agreements with those who may well have harvested organs from Catholic dissidents, pioneering a new form of martyrdom.
Can a regime, no matter how powerful, become the world's lodestar if it is morally corrupted by an utter disregard for the dignity and sanctity of human life? The 20th century gave one, negative, answer to that question; I suspect, and certainly hope, that the 21st century's answer will be the same.
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
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