From its birthplace in ancient Greece to the modern day, ethics have influenced conduct and behavior in European societies. The Hippocratic Oath is the guiding principle for the medical profession, and businesses integrate corporate ethics. Consensus on ethical values has shaped the basic rights of the people and laid the foundation for peace and prosperity throughout the European continent.
In 2020, Europe plunged into economic and social crisis after the Chinese leadership allowed the Wuhan virus to spread outside China. While the world was caught unprepared for such a threat, the communist regime in Beijing had already begun to stockpile billions of face masks in February. The lack of transparency resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of European lives. But the pandemic is not an isolated case of China breaching medical ethics and causing disillusionment.
In 2019, the China Tribunal (https://chinatribunal.com/), chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice, concluded that China has practiced forced organ harvesting extensively and primarily from Falun Gong practitioners who have suffered over two decades of persecution, which constitutes, in essence, a cold genocide.
Europeans should be alarmed by the fact that China brutally persecutes people for their faith in truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, as these principles are deeply ingrained in European people. Europe’s leaders need to ask: What does Europe expect from China and what should Europe do about China’s human rights abuses?
Economic ties to China distort the answers. However, as the pandemic has unequivocally demonstrated, such economic ties can be fragile, especially when the business partner does not play fair. What will it take for Europe to awaken from its illusions about China?
Consensus on ethical standards, transparency and trust are key factors for any successful and healthy collaboration. Uncovering violations in these areas is a first step in building such consensus. Europe has started to address the issue of forced organ harvesting with the Written Declaration WD 48 passed by the European Parliament in 2016 and the Convention against Trafficking of Human Organs (No. 216) by the Council of Europe in 2015.
Yet, more resolute action is needed.