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China to Form Research Ethics Committee

China is to establish a national research ethics advisory committee, according to Nature News.

The committee was given the go-ahead to form by the Chinese Communist Party's Central Comprehensively Deepening Reforms Commission, headed by President Xi Jinping, last month, it adds. While there are as yet few details regarding how the committee will function, Qiu Renzong, a bioethicist at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, tells Nature News that the committee could help bring coordination to an otherwise disjointed field where different organizations oversee research ethics in different situations. Qiu adds that he envisions it have a role akin to that of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

The establishment of the committee — the formation of which Nature News adds that Qiu and colleagues suggested to the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership — comes in the shadow of researcher He Jiankui's announcement last November that he had edited the genomes of twin girls as embryos, which itself raised ethical concerns, and subsequent findings from a investigation conducted by China's Guangdong Province that He may have performed the work illegally, alleging that he forged an ethics review certificate.