Forensic techniques are widely used on the mainland in disciplines ranging from pathology to criminology - but given that human rights is such a new concept, it could be some time before they are applied to cases. China's forensic scientists have such a good reputation that within days of last December's tsunami, teams were arriving in Indonesia and Thailand to help identify victims. Their skills date to 1951, when the first forensic institute was established. The numerous facilities combined in 2000 with the creation of the Centre for Forensic Sciences in Shanghai. With a revamp of the judicial system and steady progress towards a modern rule of law, observers believe western-style human rights are gradually being embraced. Given that forensic science is so well developed, they contend China will be well-placed to tackle abuses by police and other officials which are presently tolerated. Professor of law at People's University in Beijing, He Jiahong, said on the sidelines of a meeting of human rights advocates, forensic scientists and lawyers in Hong Kong last week: 'Awareness of rights is getting greater and greater. To have good protection of individual rights, a modern state must establish rule of law. We don't have a long way to go.'