He Jiankui, the Chinese biophysics researcher who announced in 2018 that he had created the world’s first gene-edited babies, was sentenced to three years in prison for “illegal medical practice” a year ago.
In China’s opaque justice system exemplary punishments are a hazard for celebrities. As the Chinese proverb has it, “To feed the ambition in your heart is like carrying a tiger under your arm.” No doubt He thought that he would be lauded for achieving a world first. Instead he disappeared for many months until it was announced that he had ended up in the clink.
Now 29-year-old Zheng Shuang, a popular actress and brand ambassador, must be asking herself whether she will end up behind bars as well. She engaged two surrogate mothers in the US to bear her children and then abandoned them. When the news broke, she was instantly “cancelled” and seems to have become an unperson.
What’s puzzling about this is that far, far worse crimes against women happen in Tibet and Xinjiang every day and the Chinese media is silent, or worse, praises them.
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