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China denies selling organs from executed convicts

China on Friday denied allegations it was selling organs of executed convicts, saying a Chinese man arrested in the United States had no connection with local authorities.

"Any form of trade in human organs is strictly against related Chinese law and is prohibited by the Chinese government," the Xinhua news agency quoted an official from southern Hainan province as saying.The official was reacting to the arrest by U.S. authorities of a former Hainan prosecutor, Wang Cheng-yong, for allegedly trying to peddle human organs he said were taken from executed criminals.

The unidentified official insisted Wang, former deputy chief of a branch of the Hainan People's Procuratorate, had had no contact with provincial judicial authorities since he left his job in early 1996.

On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department condemned as abhorrent allegations of Chinese citizens trafficking in human organs and called on Beijing to enforce laws to prevent the practice.

The State Department's 1997 report on human rights in China said that there had been credible reports in recent years that body parts from executed prisoners in China were removed, sold and transplanted.

Wang, who was arrested in Manhattan last Friday along with alleged accomplice Fu Xingqi, is accused of offering to sell human organs, including kidneys, corneas, livers and lungs, to an undercover agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Taking great pains to disassociate Hainan with the scandal, the official said local medical institutions had never cooperated with foreign agencies in carrying out organ transplants.

Xinhua quoted the official as saying China did use organs of executed prisoners but only with their consent or that of their families.