Yet from a legal perspective, it will be difficult for Chinese authorities to punish him, according to Lu, who is an expert on the country’s few laws applicable to He’s research.
“I hope this case will push the government to introduce more laws,” Lu says. “We’re developing so many new technologies — cellular immunology, artificial intelligence — without proper regulatory supervision; experimenting with them will become very dangerous.”
Following the controversy around He, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for new regulations on gene editing.
And there’s another cultural aspect of China that scientist Cheng says plays a big part in He’s work: the role of gender.
Cheng says He’s decision to justify his experiment this way was exploitative of troublesome aspects of gender imbalance in Chinese culture. “He Jiankui exploited the shame of the father, the desire of fatherhood, the societal expectation of how men are expected to carry on the family life,” says Cheng. “And that was used as a way to recruit volunteers and subjects for his experiment.”
Das letztere glaube ich nun weniger: He war wohl überhaupt froh, einige “viable” Embryos zu haben, wobei das Geschlecht eher egal war.