VIII-9 Question: Euthanasia is in conflict with traditional Chinese beliefs, which specify that one's body, hair, and skin are gifts from the parents and cannot be destroyed at will. How do Chinese see euthanasia, and will mercy killing be legalized in China?
A: Euthanasia is a complicated social problem that involves medicine, ethic, moral, law, sociology and philosophy. It has been a lasting controversial issue in China ever since it came into the public eye in China.
"Dying in bed" has been considered a good end to one's life by Chinese people. But euthanasia seems to contradict such a belief. However, with the opening of people's minds and increasing tolerance to new things in today's China, more and more begin to accept euthanasia and think that it actually does not go against morality or humanitarianism. A survey conducted among 200 senior citizens in Shanghai, the largest city in the country, shows that 73 percent of them accept euthanasia as part of their belief systems. In Beijing, over 85 percent of the people who received a similar survey hold that euthanasia conforms to humanitarianism, and over 80 percent of them support the legalization of euthanasia in China. Only 5 percent of them hold that euthanasia should be strictly prohibited in China.
Despite the pros, China's Central Government still faces many difficulties in legalizing euthanasia here. First of all, since China is a vast country, the iatrical levels of different regions differ greatly. Many medical institutions in small cities or the countryside are not even authoritative enough to confirm whether a patient's disease is incurable. Secondly, China is a big family of over 50 ethnic groups, who have different cultural backgrounds and conventions, and therefore different understandings and views towards euthanasia. In addition, the time is still not ripe for such a drastic change, taking into consideration the traditional ethical ideas of Chinese people and the current laws in China. Thus, the legalization of euthanasia in China still needs time, and perhaps a lot of time.
Nonetheless, euthanasia has already challenged traditional Chinese ideas on death, and aroused new and deeper thinking in people with regard to life.