China is to reinvestigate allegations that Chinese-made drug capsules containing powdered flesh from dead babies are being smuggled into South Korea.
A Ministry of Health spokesman said yesterday an investigation launched last August found no proof that such capsules were being manufactured in China.
Deng Haihua was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying China would investigate again following new reports of such pills, which are said to cure diseases and boost male potency, being smuggled into South Korea.
"Since the media first reported the capsules in August last year, the health authority has carried out a thorough investigation but so far no such capsules were found across the country," Deng said.
However, he said that the ministry would carry out further investigations following recent reports that the South Korean government was strengthening customs inspections to prevent such "human flesh capsules" from being trafficked from China's northeastern cities.
The capsules are said to be made from dead fetuses or infants whose bodies are chopped up into small pieces and dried on stoves before being turned into powder, South Korean customs officials told South Korean reporters.
Some people believe the capsules could cure diseases, and some young men consider them as drugs to boost male sexual potency, according to South Korean media.
South Korea said it had discovered 35 smuggling attempts since August of about 17,450 capsules disguised as stamina boosters, and some people believe them to be a panacea for disease.
The capsules of human flesh, however, contained bacteria and other harmful ingredients, South Korean officials said.
The officials said they were strengthening inspections of medical goods imported from some Chinese cities such as Yanji, Qingdao and Tianjin, where the capsules were suspected to be produced.
Last August, Seoul Broadcasting Station carried a TV news report saying that capsules stuffed with powder made from fetuses had been found being made in northeast China's Jilin Province.
The SBS report included a video clip in which human hair and nail trimmings could be seen as the capsules were being processed.
The TV reporters said they had traced some of the fetal material to Chinese hospitals that sold them to the manufacturers.
Chinese health authorities ordered the Jilin Province health watchdog to launch an immediate investigation.
Procedures to handle dead infants and fetuses are strictly regulated in Chinese law. Hospitals and clinics are banned from disposing of them as normal medical waste.
The bodies of dead infants and fetuses are considered human corpses and must be treated and cremated the same way, according to law.