People found guilty of collecting or supplying blood, which is later found to have caused death or serious illness in the recipient, will face 10 years to life in jail, under a new judicial interpretation that took effect from Tuesday, the nation's top court said on Monday.
The clarification to the law was jointly released by the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
Ni Shouming, spokesman for the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said the interpretation adds more details to relevant terms in the Chinese Criminal Law.
The new punishments will apply to those found guilty of collecting or supplying blood that causes at least five recipients to contract AIDS, hepatitis B, hepatitis C or syphilis virus, or causes them to suffer severe anemia, blood building obstructions or organ malfunction, Ni said.
Blood suppliers who fail to operate according to national standards also face jail terms of less than 10 years, he said.
Substandard operations are defined as not undertaking proper virus tests, not undertaking tests with qualified reagents, and using inappropriate packaging, Ni said.
China is well known for its underground blood collection and supply gangs.
In the mid-1990s, their activities were to blame for the spread of HIV/AIDS among people in the rural areas of central China, the Xinhua News Agency reported earlier.
In May of last year, six people from Guangdong Province were jailed for between six and 18 months for operating an illegal blood donation ring.
They encouraged migrant workers desperate for cash to sell their blood up to 10 times a month by issuing them with fake identity cards.
A law introduced in 1998 forbids donors from giving blood more than once every six months.
According to figures from the Ministry of Health, between September 2004 and June 2006, 19 people contracted HIV as a result of receiving contaminated blood from a couple operating in Bei'an, a small county in Heilongjiang Province.
In 2006, the Ministry of Health issued a regulation setting out detailed rules on laboratory testing, the storage and transportation of blood plasma and the reporting of any adverse reactions.
In the same year, 95 percent of all blood collected for clinical use in China came from voluntary donations, the ministry said.
(China Daily September 23, 2008)