THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC of China is one of the few nations in the world to support embryonic human stem cell research with minimal restrictions. Although the opposition to such research in Europe and the Americas is often predicated on a view of life drawn from those continents' Christian heritage, such a heritage does not exist in Asia. Chinese thought instead draws from the many schools of philosophy and religious traditions of its own heritage, with the teachings of Confucius prominent among them. In his writings, Confucius no more spécifies the moment at which life begins than the Bible does—and so consensus about his extrapolated position is not uniform, but traditionally in Confucianism, life (i.e., personhood, humanity, selfhood) begins at birth—not conception or during gestation. In ...

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