Monash Bioethics Review

, Volume 36, Issue 1–4, pp 23–35 | Cite as

Ethical issues in human germline gene editing: a perspective from China

  • Di Zhang
  • Reidar K. Lie
Original Article


The ethical issues associated with germline gene modification and embryo research are some of the most contentious in current international science policy debates. In this paper, we argue that new genetic techniques, such as CRISPR, demonstrate that there is an urgent need for China to develop its own regulatory and ethical framework governing new developments in genetic and embryo research. While China has in place a regulatory framework, it needs to be strengthened to include better compliance oversight and explicit criteria for how different types of research should be reviewed by regulatory authorities. We also document a variety of opinions about the new technologies among the public, scholars, and policy makers. China needs to develop its own regulations in coordination with other countries; but it is unlikely that an international consensus will be achieved in this area, given the existing differences in regulations between countries. We should aim at harmonization, not necessarily complete consensus, and the perspective from China is vital when international norms are developed and harmonized. Chinese policy makers and researchers need to be aware of the international discussions, at the same time as the international community is aware of, and accommodates, Chinese positions on important policy options.


Germline Gene editing China 14-Day rule Human embryo 



Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats


Human fertilization & embryology authority


National health and family planning commission


Ministry of science and technology


National Institutes of Health


International society for stem cell research



Thanks go to Dr David Wendler and Dr Xiaomei Zhai for their careful and insightful comments.

Authors’ contributions

Di Zhang developed the original idea and is the main contributor to the content of this manuscript. Reidar K. Lie has made substantial contributions to the conception of this work and to revision of its content. All authors read and approved the final paper.


National Social Sciences Fund (16CZX063).

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Monash University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Sciences and Humanities/Center for BioethicsChinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical CollegeBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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