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Medical research on stem cells to continue
By Qin Yuding (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-21 06:05

China is to maintain its opposition to human reproductive cloning, but will continue to allow closely monitored embryo stem cell research for the treatment and prevention of disease, a senior Chinese expert said yesterday.

"Therapeutic cloning opens up prospects for the replacement of dead stem cells and will improve the health of individuals and mankind as a whole," said Wang Hongguang, president of the China National Centre for Biotechnology Development.

Wang told China Daily that China's technology in embryo stem cell research is currently taking a leading role among developing countries and "several products in the field of skin are facing clinical examinations now."

However, Wang said, compared with developed countries, China still has a long way to go.

China's stance on human cloning was reiterated after the United Nations became divided over the life-and-death question - whether human beings should be cloned in the name of medical research - over the weekend.

The Legal Committee of the United Nations passed a declaration banning all forms of human cloning that were contrary to human dignity on Friday night.

Two competing views of the issue maintain different aspects of the United Nations declaration.

Against the declaration are 35 countries including China, Belgium and Britain that believe limited cloning is helpful.

All have expressed their willingness to continue therapeutic cloning.

Seventy-one supporters of the declaration include Honduras, the United States and Germany.

Chinese representative Su Wei said that the wording of the declaration was vague and the banning of all forms of human cloning contrary to human dignity may be misunderstood as covering therapeutic cloning, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Legal Committee has been discussing the issue of human cloning since 2001.

The committee at the end of last year avoided a divisive vote on the question of an international convention against human reproductive cloning by deciding to take up the issue again as a declaration.  

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