China’s worrying use of capital punishment for political ends

Death Row Gravesource: South China Morning Post
published: 18 August 2014

It had been a quiet two years in the news concerning capital punishment in China but the political agenda of recent announcements of executions is a cause for concern.

China remains by far the world’s centre of state executions, but the number of executions has dropped dramatically in the past decade, from 10,000 to 15,000 a year around 2000, to 2,000 or so last year. Precise numbers are impossible to obtain, but some of the motives for Beijing’s attempt to reduce execution totals can be discerned.

China is sensitive to the objections that come from the massive scale of its executions and from publicity about miscarriages of justice. Beijing also wanted to reassert its authority over local governments that had been executing without supervision under the “strike hard” policies that started in the early 1980s.

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