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Chinese executional tricks
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-09-18 10:12:34
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As we get closer to the Olympic Games year criticism is coming more often about different things, therefore Peking had to do something, even if that something is just for show. The Chinese Supreme Court has ordered judges to be more …sparing in the application of death penalties.

To this there are two sides, such as there are two sides in my head while reading this and trying to understand what the Chinese state - justice is totally controlled by the state - is after. I should be happy for the Chinese coming one step closer to understanding that respect to human life comes on many levels or shall I be my usual cynical self?

Yes, they are going to reduce the number of state members that were convicted for economic scandals to the death penalty but - and this is a huge 'but' - since who’s going to get capital punishment: a former state member or a strong opposition leader? And to become even more cynical, do they mean that they are going to reduce the number of convicted from nearly 4,000 to nearly 3,999 and the actual executions from the 1,770 in 2005 to 1,769 this year?

Why are they doing this? Is it to keep all the NGOs from asking everybody to boycott the Olympic Games? That’s definitely a good reason for the Chinese communist party. The Chinese communist party has come a long way since the days of its founder, especially after the Cultural Revolution that came to clean up the party. Actually, if the ideas of the Cultural Revolution had any effect in today’s China the leaders of the party should be the first to be shot.

China has always been a huge market, which even the church realized centuries ago when, aside from the preaching, the monks and the missionaries always tried to make business with the Chinese. Today there is cheap labour, low costs and a society that learns to be consuming; a paradise for western companies.

The most amazing thing about the whole case was the detailed instructions the Supreme Court gave. For example, murders triggered by family disputes should not always lead to the death penalty, alike to crimes for …passion! But, the best of all comes last: those convicted of economic crimes should be treated more ‘leniently’ if they help to recoup money that was defrauded. Most likely the last one is because if they continue the way they have been leading over the last few years everybody in the central committee of the Chinese communist party will be executed!

It is only days since we published another article about capital punishment and it was for the 30 year anniversary of the last execution with guillotine in France. In that article I was talking about China and I feel a personal irony that only a few days after the Chinese Supreme Court took the decision, just as I said, to understand that the eye-for-eye punishment only makes us equally murderers, with the sentenced.

Either they are making a positive first step towards the exclusion of capital punishment or the Chinese state may just make me really angry by naively thinking that they can manipulate NGOs and democratic governments with stupid announcements like that.

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Emanuel Paparella2007-09-18 12:44:08
As Havel aptly pointed out some ten years ago, Communism wherever it survives represents the last desperate gasp of ideological rationalism and fanaticism proclaiming the workers’ paradise on earth while violating their inalienable human and civil rights on their merry way to catching up with the West’s material prosperity and Epicurean life-style.

When Mao told the Dalai Lama “religion is poison” echoing Marx dictum of “religion as opium of the people” he did not mean to express an opinion but a commandment to be brutally enforced, and he proved it when he egregiously invaded Tibet and destroyed its ancient culture . We can of course preach the virtues of democracy and human rights to the present leaders of the so called People’s Republic of China, but we ought not to be surprised if they accuse us of hypocrisy and present us with a Gordian knot telling us to mind our business since three thirds of people in England and half of the people in Italy wish to see capital punishment reinstated, not to speak of the 80% who get upset if a mosque is established in an empty church, claiming that Europe is a Christian continent, but then do not even bother to baptize their children, and much prefer soccer games to Sunday worship.

Indeed it will take more than soccer games or Olympic games to convince the Chinese Communists that a people’s republic means government of the people, for the people, by the people, period. I suspect that the very nature of their ideology does not allow for that much imagination. Ideas do matter, perhaps more than marching armies.

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