From Eugenics to Human Gene Editing: Engineering Life in China in a Global Context
The announcement by a Chinese scientist in late November 2018 of the birth of the world’s first gene-edited babies sparked outrage across the world. Among numerous ethical issues, editing heritable germline genomes of otherwise healthy embryos for natural resistance to HIV constitutes an effort of positive eugenics, i.e. not treating disease but enhancing genetic features. This paradigm case of scientific misconduct has its roots in the widespread practice of yousheng (eugenics) in China and in the nation’s pursuit of science superpower status. This talk will offer a (brief) socio-ethical inquiry into how the ideologies of nationalism, sinicised social Darwinism and scientism have shaped the Chinese authoritarian model of human genetic engineering in a global context.