The Chinese state and its people remain supportive of capital punishment. However the in-depth and somewhat ostentatious live coverage of a Myanmar drug lord and his 3 accomplices being executed has received heavy criticism. The prosecuted were found guilty of the murder of 13 Chinese fishermen after hijacking their two cargo boats located on the Mekong River in Northern Thailand in 2011. The region is extremely dangerous and known for drug trafficking. All those captured and trailed were foreign nationals, the leader Naw Kham was an infamous Burmese drug lord. The others were of Thai and Lao origin and one was identified as stateless. “It was the first time that Chinese police were conducting a manhunt for criminals who were all foreigners based overseas,” reported Global Times. This has highlighted some implications for China’s integration into the world system, as internal affairs increasingly involve other countries. China promoted this recent trail as a unified objective to gain ‘justice’. However psychologists in China have criticised the broadcast stating that the two hours of coverage was unnecessarily excessive and distressing for many, especially children. Further outrage has been sparked across the globe by the coverage as human rights activists and lawyers call into question the judicial system in China.
The Guardian cartographic map shown below illustrates which countries continue to carry out the death penalty. The exact number for China remains unknown as Beijing keeps this information secret, but research and more open media coverage suggest the number of executions in 2011 reached the thousands.
Source of Statistics: Amnesty International (must consider bias of data source, international charity on human rights).
Whether individuals agree with the death penalty or ‘punishment to fit the crime’, this most recent high profile exposure of the Chinese political and judicial systems has brought the global spotlight on the contentious issues of human rights in the country.