China, regarded by some critics as the Wild West in terms of science and technology research programmes, has released a new set of guidelines to enhance the ethics review process on experiments involving humans and animals. This initiative by the Chinese government marks a crucial step towards improving ethics oversight in the country, more than two years after Chinese scientist He Jiankui was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 3 million yuan (US$471,000) for creating the world’s first gene-edited babies. The new guidelines, released by the General Office of China’s Communist Party and the General Office of the State Council, were drawn up to “strengthen the research on relevant laws in key areas such as life sciences, medicine and artificial intelligence ” by 2025, according to a report published on Sunday by Xinhua News Agency . It requires institutions to set up an ethical committee to screen research activities involving humans and animals, following “scientific, independent, just and transparent” principles. It also encourages universities to offer relevant courses that make ethical education an important part of undergraduate and graduate studies. Chinese authorities are tasked to direct universities, research institutions, medical organisations, social groups and various enterprises to improve their monitoring and early warning mechanisms for ethical risks, and follow up developments in emerging areas in science and technology, according to the guidelines. It also pushed for the ethical review and supervision of international collaborative research activities, which would help ascertain that these comply with the ethics approach in all of the countries involved. The guidelines reflect Beijing’s effort to exercise greater control over various scientific research and development activities, following the backlash generated by the gene-edited baby scandal and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for social scoring and mass surveillance purposes. Chinese AI has new ethical guidelines that curb Big Tech’s algorithms Controversial research activities that involve gene editing, facial recognition and animal testing have prompted the Chinese government to try and catch up on developments through new regulations. Earlier this month, two prominent Chinese bioethicists called on the government to protect the world’s first gene-edited babies – the result of an experiment that was globally condemned. They suggested that a dedicated “research and care organisation” be set up and funds allocated to look after the three children. In October last year, the Chinese government released the first set of ethical guidelines governing AI . It placed emphasis on protecting user rights and preventing risks in ways that align with China’s goal to become the global AI leader by 2030 .