In announcing the launch of a new organ donation system, Vice Minister Huang Jiefu disclosed for the first time how dependent China has become on organs from executed prisoners, China Daily reports.
The newspaper said experts estimate death row inmates have supplied 65 percent of donated organs.
Huang says condemned prisoners are "definitely not a proper source for organ transplants."
China's new organ donation system will be operated mainly by the Red Cross Society of China with assistance from the Ministry of Health, Huang said.
Currently about 1 million people in China need organ transplants each year, The Times of London says.
Since 2003, only about 130 people have signed up to donate organs.