On the morning of July 12, Zeng Chengjie, a businessman and real estate developer from China's Hunan Province, was executed by firing squad. Mr. Zeng, 55, was convicted of illegal fundraising involving 3.4 billion RMB ($550 million). His daughter, Zeng Shan, later protested on Weibo that the court had not notified the family before her father's execution. It was a full two days after his death that the Zeng family finally received the execution notice by mail. Postmarked "July 13," the notice was issued on July 12, the day of Zeng's execution.
The hasty and secretive execution prompted suspicions among Weibo users. Many in particular have questioned whether or not authorities harvested Zeng's organs for use in transplant operations. The government cremated Zeng and did not disclose the record of events surrounding his execution, so there is no way to know what happened to Zeng's body. Nonetheless, the practice of using executed prisoners' organs for transplantation is an open secret in China.
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Huang Jiefu, who served as vice minister of China's Ministry of Health for 12 years and was in charge of China's organ transplant development until stepping down in March, has admitted on various occasions that the majority of organs used for transplantation in China come from executed prisoners. A March 2012 article co-authored by Huang in a major medical journal, The Lancet, asserted that "65 percent of transplantation operations done in China use organs from deceased donors, over 90 percent of whom were executed prisoners." But the Chinese government has long held that the use of any organ from a prisoner only occurs after full consent from the prisoner, including families when appropriate.