The Chinese government has set out strict new procedures for the use and international transport of human corpses and body parts to be effective as of August 1.
A new regulation bans the trade of corpses and commercial activities involving corpses.
No organization or individual is allowed to accept body donations except medical institutes, medical schools, medical research institutes and forensic research institutes.
Those in receipt of bodies should arrange interment after use.
The transport of bodies into and from China for interment must be approved by civil affairs departments, customs and inspection and quarantine authorities.
The exit and entry of bodies for medical and scientific purposes must be approved in accordance with the Regulation on Human Hereditary Resources issued by the State Council and the Quarantine Regulation of Special Medical Items issued by the Ministry of Health and the State Quality and Quarantine Administration.
No other reasons for international transport will be approved, says the regulation.
The regulation defines "corpses" as human bodies, body parts such as organs and bones, and specimens of bodies or body parts.
This regulation is another indication of the government's tightened control of the country's organ transplant industry, after its first regulation on human organ transplants took effect on July 1, explicitly banning the sale of organs and tightening approval standards for transplants.
It is estimated that 2 million Chinese need transplants each year, but only 20,000 operations are conducted because of a shortage of organs. This has resulted in an illegal organ trade in some regions.
Meanwhile, poor management of organ sources, sharing, registration and monitoring of transplant patients had raised concerns in the international community, Vice-Minister of Health Huang Jiefu said in May.
Foreign media have reported that organs are taken from executed criminals, but the Ministry of Health denied this in April, saying most organs in China had been voluntarily donated by ordinary citizens on their deaths, and a small number from executed criminals who voluntarily signed donation approvals.