From Eugenics to Human Gene Editing: Engineering Life in China in a Global Context

Location: West Wing Lecture Theatre

Date: Tuesday 1 October 2019

Time: 17:30 - 19:00

RSVP:  Please book at


Abstract: 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.

Speaker: Jing-Bao Nie is a Professor at the Bioethics Centre, University of Otago, New Zealand; an adjunct Professor in Medical Humanities at Peking University, China; and a 2019/20 Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University, UK.


This talk is organised by the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.