China has formally banned trading in human organs, state media reported on Wednesday amid ongoing allegations that the nation is heavily involved in harvesting body parts from executed prisoners.
The regulations, issued by the State Council, or China's cabinet, prohibit all organisations and individuals from trading human organs in any form.
Any doctor found to be involved in such activities will have their licences revoked, while clinics or hospitals will be suspended from doing organ transplant operations for at least three years, it said.
Fines have been set at between eight to ten times the value of the outlawed trade and officials convicted of trading in human organs will be sacked and kicked out of the government, the regulations said.
International human rights groups have long accused China of harvesting organs from executed prisoners for transplant without the consent of the prisoner or his or her family.
Hospitals have also been regularly accused of secretly taking organs from road accident victims and other dead patients without telling family members.
The government has denied such charges, saying most organs are voluntarily donated by ordinary citizens and executed criminals who gave consent before their deaths.
Foreign patients facing a shortage of compatible organs in their home countries have flocked to China where organs are more plentiful and surgical costs cheaper.
The country is the world's second largest performer of transplants after the United States, with about 5,000 operations carried out each year.
But China also faces a gap between demand and supply of functional organs, it said.
About 1.5 million patients need transplants each year, but only 10,000 find organs, the report said, without explaining the discrepancy with the annual number of operations.
The new rules do not apply to transplants of human tissue such as cells, corneas or bone marrow.