SUZHOU, Prc. – The Chinese government denied allegations today that a cloned “human-like specimen” escaped a government-run medical testing facility in the Jiangsu Province late last week. “Our involvement in cloning does not extend beyond the research phase,” said Li Bin, chairman of China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission. “Further, our intention is not to copy a human being but to create genetically matched cells and tissue for the benefit of transplant patients.”
Meanwhile, Internet access in the Jiangsu Province has been suspended since Saturday and much of the city is experiencing a “cellular blackout,” the Shanghai Morning Post reported early today. Residents of northern Shanghai reported seeing military aircraft flying low over neighboring Jiangsu this weekend amid rumors that the Chinese military had sealed off the city.
Yves Billaud, a French journalist with La Tribune Internationale, was in the Jiangsu Province last week and spoke briefly with a molecular biologist who works in the government laboratory where the incident allegedly took place. Billaud told the Associated Press that the scientist, who wished to remain anonymous for his safety, said “there were many deaths” linked to the escape and that the “specimen caused significant damage to the workspace.”
Billaud said the scientist did not elaborate on specifics but implied the deaths were caused by the “specimen” rather than the Chinese army.
In April of this year, Chinese scientists at the Xiangya medical college announced they had cloned “at least thirty human embryos” using harvested stem cells from cloned eggs obtained through a fertility clinic. Many in the scientific community have questioned the ethics of cloning human beings, arguing that doing so “violates our moral principles.”