Cross-Cultural Issues in Bioethics: The Example of Human Cloning

By Heiner Roetz | Go to book overview

Cloning Issues in China

Qiu Renzong

Abstract: The paper elaborates the various factors which influence the
debate on cloning issues in China: cultural dimensions, scientism, market
force, and legal/regulatory factors, and describes the intellectual basis for
the cloning debate and the development of bioethics in mainland China. It
then sets out the arguments for and against human reproductive cloning
and the arguments for human therapeutic cloning. It concludes that the
cloning debate needs cross-cultural dialogue and international collabora-
tion.

Key Words: Cloning culture, Confucianism, Taoism, Person, Embryo,
Fetus, Scientism, Human reproductive cloning, Human therapeutic clon-
ing.


1. Introduction

Since news of Dolly the sheep was first published in Nature in 1997, human cloning has been the topic of ongoing debate in China,1 both in scientific circles and among the general public. Hundreds of articles on the subject have been published in academic journals, popular magazines, and newspapers, and it has been featured in a considerable number of TV programmes. Decision makers in science and medicine began to address the ethical, legal and social issues involved in human cloning, and for the first time in its history the Minister of Health convened a meeting of experts to discuss the implications of nucleus transfer technology. The Chinese government has joined France and German in their efforts to persuade the United Nations to endorse a resolution prohibiting human reproductive cloning, despite the fact that some Chinese scientists and philosophers are in favour of it. Since then bioethics as a discipline has been very much in the limelight.

The cloning debate in China is taking place at a time when the country is in transition from a monolithic society to a more or less pluralistic civil society. The factors influencing the debate are complicated. China has had a characteristic culture for thousands of years, which is built on three teachings: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Of them, Confucianism is the dominant one and is firmly rooted in many Chinese minds and in many social conventions. In the decades after 1949 the chief ideology was Marxism-Leninism in its Chinese version. Since the new

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