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Perspectives

December 30, 2009
In poll, overwhelming majority of Chinese support execution


Girls with bound feet smoking dope in an opium den in Canton. Photo: Flickr user Okinawa Soba

Hsin-Yin Lee, a former associate producer at Worldfocus, is a news editor at the “China Times” in Taipei.

In China, the dispute over U.K. citizen Akmal Shaikh’s execution is becoming off the point quickly. The issue now is neither about judicatory independence nor human rights but rather, “on whose side is history?”

The Chinese Embassy said in a statement that the “strong resentment” felt by the Chinese public against drug traffickers was the product of “the bitter memory of history.” What Chinese authorities are referring to here is the two Opium Wars fought between China and Great Britain and its allies in the middle of the 19th century.

To me, what the Chinese authorities said is quite fair — the Chinese public doesn’t forget, and doesn’t forgive.

Every Chinese knows that during the dark time of their history — when the society was backward and the government struggled for modernization — it was Britain and other Western powers that relentlessly dumped bad materials and bad ideas on the country.

In an online survey held by the Chinese media more than 97% of the 15,000 participants voted “yes” when asked if they supported the execution of Shaikh. In fact, most Chinese people used the same emoticon to express their feelings.

Angry and cynical remarks are everywhere: “There is only one answer–yes–if you are Chinese,” “I am not sure if that Briton is out of his mind, but I am sure the British prime minister is out of his mind to ask for pardon,” “We are not going to lose the modern Opium War,” and “We should have executed the Brit in Humen Town!” [Humen is the place where Chinese authority supervised the destruction of seized opium on the brink of Opium War.]

In fact, when any controversy touches on China’s national pride these days, it’s often “end of discussion.” As a Chinese, I must say that the idea of “sweet revenge” did occur to me. The thought, however, is not only irresponsible but also dangerous.

What troubles me is that I have seen more and more of a nationalist-oriented agenda being used–from China’s stand on emission-cutting to a recent Sino-U.S. dispute over anti-dumping tariffs. History should be used as a mirror that allows us to look back as we march forward, not one that reflects only hatred and bias.

If the Chinese people refuse to think hard about important issues but instead go for convenient solutions, then what they really are doing is to commit the same error they did during the Opium War — deluding themselves.

– Hsin-Yin Lee

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Comments

28 comments

#28

Good points, I think I will definitely subscribe! I’ll go and read some more! What do you see the future of this being?

#27

Executing a drug mule for a smuggling offence clearly reflects the mental challenge of those in power.

#26

Was Akmal Shaikh really mentally ill?
He should have consumed the drug himself because it did look like chocolate.

#25

The Chinese execute their own smugglers, why should this guy be treated differently? America should execute drug smugglers, but that would wipe a lot of CIA and politicians …. wouldn’t it…..
If you notice, American streets are getting flooded with Afghan Heroin ….. just like the good-old-days when the CIA operated in Nam (and COKE when the CIA was in central America)

#24

This was excellent! Make an example of him just like Singapore does. Singapore as a result has very little drug problems. Just because he is Gaijin (foreigner) does not excuse his crime. Three cheers for the Chinese.

PS Iam Canadian and we have a VERY serious problem with lethal drugs in this country thanks to a lax judical system

#23

Heroin is a big problem in China – and the CCP need to stop play acting around mentally ill mules – and put an end to it.

The excellent article below is very informative:

http://factsanddetails.com/china.php?itemid=139&catid=11&subcatid=74

#22

China has announced a big Herion bust in Shenzhen to try and justify their barborous killing of Akmal Shaikh.

It is obvious. Drugs are poring into China and Wen Jiaboa and the CCP are failing to catch the major criminals – and wanted to pretend that they are rellay succesfful in tackling crime – by killing a mentally retarded and useless British drug mule.

Its all a CCP stage show – a smokescreen – so that the CCP do not get the blame for being corrupt and weak on crime.

I visitted a beautiful city Chengdu and was shocked to see heroin addicts in the street and in the newspapers. It was not the same 5 years ago.

The CCP need to care for their young people’s live and stop being corrupt and tackle the drug menace in China and catch the real masterminds and criminals behind it.

#21

The British of course likes the mental illness idea – as they see that is the only way that their ex-PM Blair could walk away his wrong doing in Iraq. They can now proclaim Blair must be another example of mental illness as he was believing George Brush in MWD in Iraq. LOL.

#20

Diagnosing and treating bi-polar disorders is tricky and expensive.

http://helpguide.org/mental/bipolar_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm

The Chinese – because the present regime does not value human life – took the view that it was cheaper to deny and psychiatrist – and simply executed Akmal Shaikh.

This is not an accountant working in a company – this is a human life that we are talking about. Its a bit like the heartless Chairman Mao not fearing atomic weapons because he calculated that the Chinese had enough numbers to survive a nuclear strike!!!!

#19

China will not be respected until it respects human life!!!

This article puts it well:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/30/britain-china-death-deplored

Ultimately – China will have to move beyond its Bhuddist and Taoist roots – and become Christian – or rediscover Confucius virtuous ruler – who loves its and other people’s citizens.

“Love your neighbour as yourself” sums it up.

#18

The poll is useless – as you have to value human life in the 1st place for it to be relevent. Remember Hitler killing the Jews and Gypsys – probably would have had a high poll success in WW2 Germany!!

Even kids know: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”

Every reasonable country – with a just Law System – would have examined Mr Shaikh with a psychiatrist. This would have remived doubt. If there was doubt – due to the seriousness of the crime – they would have jailed him for 30 years +.

In this case, Wen Jiabao simply washed his hands of the blood of Akmal Shaikh and passed it on to the brainwashed Chinese people. God is not easily fooled – and there will be a real Judgement Day. The Chinese are using all sorts of tricks and lies to avoid the incriminating fact that they did not allow a professional psychiatrist to examine Shaikh.

The moral of the story – is don’t send mentally ill people to China who will execute them and turn their body parts into value cash by selling their organs. Perhaps, they should have psychiatrist at airports so that people visitting China can have their mental condition checked out!!! X-Ray machines can be used to stop terrorists!!

#17

If sympathiser of the drug pusher is sincere and serious about this matter, they better warn their kind to stay out of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and most other Asian nation because we all have death penalty for drug trafficking. Tell them in the news and in bill boards to stay put in London and never to visit Asia. Will they do that? I wonder. They just like to give out hot air while riding on their high horse.

#16

The Chinese public would not support the execution of a Chinese in UK. This shows the narrow minded nature of regionalism. By the way, capital punishment is immoral.

#15

What is the author trying to say when he use the words “deluding themselves”? Is he implying that today’s China, and the Chinese people, actually are not aware how “weak” China is, like their Qing predecessors? If so, I think the author himself is “deluded”. Not all things from the west is “good”, and this question of drug policy has so much to do with judicial sovereignty and the state’s responsibility to protect the people against the heinous effects of drugs. I hope China will execute any and all offenders of this policy, be it an Englishman, a Frenchman or an American. We Chinese do not forget…why should we? History is suppose to be a lesson for the present and future.

#14

The author is trying to stay ‘politically correct’ to explore a crack on the Chinese reaction, thus the comment on ‘deluding nationalistic ideas’, when everything else failed.

Drug trafficker caught and executed- one less harm to the world. ‘Mental illness’? No single medical record at all before the trial, let alone to believe a ‘bipolar’ person is limited to mood change. And yes he travelled all the way to 3 countries.

#13

Brushing off those who refer to Britain’s horrific past towards China and its people does not help the cause. Instead of taking the opportunity to fight against the heroin war with China this time, Britain chose to once again impose its rules on China by attempting to set a dangerous precedent for both countries to drug traffickers (whether they are “sick”, religious, in debt, “tricked”, etc.).

It’s clear that some callously qualify him as bipolar when it came to corporal punishment. If he was bipolar, he can still determine right from wrong (and in Canada being bipolar can still make you a criminal).

Regardlessly, Shaikh’s government had more than 2 years to give credible or any documented evidence of this alleged mental illness, but they failed him. It’s self-humiliating for Britain to pride itself internationally in using disproportionate amounts of energy and resources to engage in a no win-no win war with China over a mentally capable drug trafficker.

#12

Recently on the news 4 chinese drug traffikers from HK M/land and Macau were caught in Vietnam. There are going to be executed. I doubt the chinese govt or people are going to waste their time supporting
people who are caught smuggling drugs and let the local justice system and law deal with it. I do not sympathised with such people because their are fully aware of the consequence of their action.
The same applies with Shaikh. It’s laughable to use mental illness as an excuse without any document to proof and I bet quite possible he could have been a old hand in drug traffiking. He was just been unlucky at being caught. This is a timely warning to all drug traffikers who wants to profit from people’s misery. You are playing Russian Roulette.
It never ceases to amaze me why the West are such a hypocrates accusing China of this and that violation. Bla, bla, bla endless accusations.
Why don’t they look at the mirror and have a good look at thenselves, look at what is happening in Palestine when are the Palestinian going to get their justice. They have been robbed of their land, their home and also their dignity. the same for the Iraqi, Afghani and now Pakistani. How many millions suffered from the high and mighty morally superior west. I don’t see many in the West have qualms about all these atrocities and injustices. Unbelievable.
And to chinditone. Tell us what your govt have done to stop the wanton killing of muslim minority by Hindu fanatics in Hydrabad and other places and the killing of christian and dhalits. I didn’t hear from the West making any complain. Oh! I forgot India is a democracy a lot in common with the West.
No wonder and quite naturally the Chinese feels very offended by this blatant interference in chinese judiciary topping it off with accusations and insults.
We Asian don’t want to take any more of your Western hypocratical bull crap.
Enough is enough.Stop interfering in China’s business infact all other countries business. The world would surely be a much better place.

#11

Mental illness – anyone who lives in the West know that mental illness is mostly a game played by lawyers who are trained in the West to protect the wrongdoers while they rake in millions of legal fees.

This trick won’t fly in most places. In China legal system, no lawyer will make millions off an ordeal. Anyone with IQ of an ant can tell you that a mentally ill person aren’t likely to engage in drug trafficking in a foreign country. Who are the Europeans are trying to kid? LOL

If a mental ill Chinese national dropps an atomic bomb in London, is he excused? To use mentally ill as an after thought would only fly in the West – Is Bin Laden mentally ill too? LOL

#10

Just to be clear, regardless of what the press say or the government says, most people i know and i suspect most people in this country (normal people) have the opinion that if you go to another country and commit a crime intentionally that will get you executed then you get what you deserve, even if you’re white and have a UK passport.

Some of you guys really need to get over this ‘white’ fixation that you have.

#9

Hi, Hsin Yin Lee,
in what sense are the contemporary Chinese population deluding themselves, and how is this delusion connected with the opium wars?

‘If’ 97% of respondents agree with the execution this would be a reaction resulting from nationalist sentiment rather than delusion.

You must be acutely aware of how strong that sentiment is.

To accept/argue that 90+% of the Chinese population are deluded is a gross injustice to the Chinese people (in the People’s Republic).

In Australia, Indigenous people continue to live in 3rd world conditions that were created by the British Government. The work is continued by our current government, one that finds it hard to apologise, can’t find the cash or can’t freely hand over land and rights to the Indigenous.

It is unlikely the Aboriginal people are in a forgetful, forgiving mood, having to live this very existence as we write. No enough food, clothing, housing, work, medical care, education, water, etc. reaches the Aboriginal Communities in Australia.

The Chinese have their own story to tell. No-one could forget this history in the short term.

Britain was forced to hand over Macau/HK. They did not install HK ‘democracy’ until AFTER they were given notice to leave by 1997. That’s how old the ‘Opium Wars’ are. There has been total control over Chinese territory by intruders until the handover of Macau and HK.

Sympathies to Mr Shaikh’s family.

#8

I don’t recall Gov Bush or Gov Clinton giving clemency on capital cases. Was he a smuggler caught with drugs, sane or insane

#7

Internet polls such as these are completely worthless as indicators of public opinion. They are very unscientific, and, as suggested above, Chinese internet users are not likely to voice opinions against government policy due to fear of causing difficulties for themselves as a result.

#6

It is also a family’s responsibility to prevent their relatives from being used this way. If they knew he had such mental illnesses, why let him be so unprotected? Typical: “I only bother if it impacts myself” attitude.

#5

Yeah, right! What the author is implying is quite dangerous. The guy simply broke the law and got punished. Mentally illness plea might work well in EU and US, but in china as well as some other asian countries, it is something that was hard to bite unless the criminal is either serious schizophreniz or retarded. Most of people here are easy to point their fingers without respecting chinese culture and social development. May everybody think twice if they want to get high in china.

#4

I have a hard time believing the validity of this “poll”. In a context where the state closely monitors internet activity, and responding to the poll in a way that indicates lack of support for execution might invite the state’s scrutiny, who wouldn’t “support” execution? This is hardly scientific.

#3

There is no regard for the sanctity of human life here. A mentally ill man was just a plaything for China – as human life – and the mentally ill are not valued by the culture.

Taking a mentally ill human’s life is just a way to show everyone how great and powerful China is – how Wen Jiabao protects its people – and how the West – and drug barons who pick mentally ill mules should be frightened of China’s might.

The Chinese deliberately prevented a psychiatrist from seeing the mentally ill man – as they planned to execute him. Wen Jiabao could play the game by being Pontius Pilate and wash his hands of blame – and say that its China legal system who are handling it.

If the Chinese had been genuine – they would have allowed a psychiatrist to see Akmal Shaikh – and this. However they knew that this would have ended the argument – and the would have had to jail him for 30 years etc etc.

This German article below expalins it nicely. China is still an immature country

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,669573,00.html

China has a huge mental health problem:

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-12/29/content_9239330.htm

China has only 4000 psychiatrists to deal with 100 Million mentally ill people.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/5235487/China-has-100-million-people-with-mental-illness.html

Will China execute its own 100 million mentally ill people or will it ever learn how to treat them? Will China ever value the sanctity of human life and learn how to protect the vulnerable rather than use them as scapegoats?

#2

The only one deluding himself is the author. The man smuggled drugs and and was caught. He had a chance to defend himself but there is a lack of evidence to support his defense( there was no medical record from UK of his mental illness). So he was punished according to the law. This is the formal position of the Chinese court that sentenced him. Some people in the West try to turn this into “Chinese are avenging the Opium War” to confuse some people and divert attention from the facts of the case that China executed a guilty man who was trying to profit from other people’s misery and addiction.

#1

Follow the money,…

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