1977 to 1994 German anatomist Gunther von Hagens develops a method to replace human tissue with coloured liquid plastics which preserves human remains indefinitely. His first factory is located in Kyrgyzstan and draws criticism for using bodies of the homeless and criminally insane, which he denies. He begins sales of plastinated bodies to universities and medical centres around the world.
1995 Von Hagens embarks on an international tour with a collection of posed and plasticized bodies, his first “Body Worlds” show.
1999 Von Hagens opens the largest body factory to date in Dalian, China, in August at the recommendation of his Chinese protégé Sui Hongjin. It is personally approved by the city’s mayor, Bo Xilai. The same year, the mass campaign to eradicate Falun Gong begins. Awards and personal relationships between Von Hagens, Hongjin and Bo soon follow.
2001 Bo Xilai becomes Party Secretary of Liaoning province and begins expanding and building large-scale facilities to house Falun Gong prisoners, including the infamous Masanjia Labor Camp. In particular, Bo takes in and deals with Falun Gong practitioners who were arrested in Beijing but who refused to disclose their names. Lethal injection becomes the province-wide execution method instead of gunshot, the first province to do so.
2001 According to a source for The Epoch Times, Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, and English businessman Neil Heywood begin setting up the system of harvesting organs from political prisoners and selling them to unknowing transplant patients from around the world.
2002 Sui Hongjin secretly establishes his own plastination factory. When Von Hagens finds out, he throws him out of the company and a fierce rivalry is sparked a that continues to this day.
2004 German magazine Der Spiegel publishes an exposé on Von Hagens and “Body Worlds,” detailing shadowy financial dealings and email exchanges that expose chilling and damning details of “fresh corpses” in Dalian such as this one: “An incident that took place in the morning hours of December 29, 2001 in Dalian: Just at the height of a state cleansing wave against alleged ‘criminals’, Gunther von Hagens reaches a password-protected email document, the receipt of ‘two fresh copies, of the highest quality’, which arrived in the company in the morning with bullet holes in their heads. ‘So fresh’ are the bodies, that the livers of the two dead were ‘clinically transplanted’ only a few hours before.”
2004 In response to the Der Spiegel article, Von Hagens publicly offers to look through his collection of over 600 dead bodies for evidence of execution. He returns seven corpses to China that have bullet holes in their heads. In a public statement published by The Guardian, Von Hagens says “I can’t prove the bodies weren’t executed, but I believe they weren’t,” also admitting he received the bodies from Chinese officials but could not be sure of their origins.
2008 A former employee of Sui Hongjin’s factory shows ABC’s 20/20 photos of newly executed prisoners in alleyways that he was instructed to pick up for Sui’s plastination factory. ABC also captures a tearful Von Hagens stating that he can no longer do business with China due to the possibility bodies there are from executed prisoners.
2009 The whistleblower, who turned out to be a then-employee of Von Hagens, retracts his previous statement and photos, saying Von Hagens put him up to it to discredit Sui Hongjin. Nonetheless, New York’s Attorney General orders the US event company that exhibits Hongjin’s prepared corpses, “Bodies… The Exhibition,” to add a scathing disclaimer to their show and website and to refund visitors who wrongly believed the bodies were donated.
2011 British businessman Neil Heywood is found dead and Gu Kailai, Bo Xilai’s wife, is arrested for murder. The plastination factory she’s associated with is shuttered within 48 hours of her arrest. Months later, she’s found guilty and sentenced to death. The trial lasts for only 7 hours and observers note gaping holes in the official story which is that Gu felt she needed to murder Heywood to protect her son. However, according to the Epoch Times source, Gu murdered Heywood because he had begun to talk about their dealings involving executed Falun Gong prisoners in Dalian. Analysts point out that Gu likely traded silence on the subject for a suspension of the death penalty.
2012 One night, Wang LiJun, Bo Xilai’s right hand man, dramatically enters the US Embassy in Beijing and spends 30 hours there. Bo has the police surround the building while Wang tries to negotiate his way safely to the US. It’s widely believed Wang disclosed secrets about Bo and Gu’s organ harvesting and body trafficking during his attempt to negotiate asylum. In the end, Wang is handed back to Beijing’s authorities.
2013 Bo is brought to trial after being held in jail for more than a year on charges of corruption, accepting bribes, abuse of power, and “bending the law for selfish ends.” Crimes that would indict the entire communist party — organ harvesting, persecution, genocide — are kept off the ledger.
Today, Sui Hongjin continues to oversee plastination factories in Liaoning Province and sell preserved corpses to shows and educational facilities around the world.
Now, Von Hagens claims that all corpses in his show are from Caucasian donors. His plastination factory is on the Polish-German border but he’s been linked to a factory in China that processes dead animals.