Evil Olympics, Day Six: A Partial List Of Things Punishable By Death In China

The unquestioned execution leader in all the world is the People’s Republic of China. China executes more of its prisoners each year than all the other nations of the world, combined — more than 10,000 people a year executed at the hands of the government. Procedural “review” of trials resulting in capital punishment have resulted in more executions, performed faster.

Most executions are a single shot with a hollow-point bullet shot from a high-powered rifle. If you are killed this way, and you are a citizen of the PRC, your family will be billed fifty yuan for the bullet used to kill you. Others are by lethal injection, with the death kits carried around from place to place in unobtrusive black-and-white vans, like the one pictured to the right. They look a lot like regular police vans but a panel in the side opens up and a strap-in bed moves out so the prisoner does not have to be manhandled through the regular door near the driver’s area.

Executions are not public but they are broadcast on closed-circuit television to local law enforcement agencies as a means of ensuring the manner of execution is according to Chinese law. Prisoners are often also paraded in front of locals on their way to whatever ad hoc execution grounds have been chosen, where they are subject to jeers and catcalls from passers-by and held out to the public for whatever deterrent value can be had from such a display. Sentences are frequently carried out at “death penalty rallies,” which are also highly publicized affairs, in which dozens of suspects accused of similar crimes will be herded together onto a soccer pitch, town square, or other available public area, huddled together for their amalgamated trials at gunpoint, and then collectively sentenced to death.

As I noted a few days ago, many executions result in the harvesting of organs from the executed prisoner — although this is really kind of immaterial to the prisoner at that point. The profit to be generated by organ harvesting is probably the real reason that lethal injection in the death vans has grown in popularity with the officials in charge of carrying out executions in recent years. It is rumored, and not difficult to believe, that richer prisoners can bribe their way into being executed by lethal injection rather than being shot.

So what sorts of things do you have to do to render yourself a candidate for organ donation in the People’s Republic? A sampler platter of crimes bearing this punishment include:

In one notable case, a peasant farmer named Lei Yuan Ling was hauling two sacks of rice from his rural farm into a local village. Two police officers confiscated his rice. Later that afternoon, Lei saw them eating rice for lunch, and in a fit of rage attacked them. He was shot in the skull for the “attempted murder of a police official” six months later.

Now, I’m not saying that (most of) these things should not be crimes, or that the PRC should tolerate people doing them. But death seems a little bit extreme for VAT receipt forgery, and justice can only occur when punishments are proportionate to crimes.

If you do find yourself convicted of one of these crimes, try to be male. Women are sentenced to death in far greater numbers than are men. Also, try to not be convicted in the period of time before or immediately after the Chinese New Year, which is when the annual renewal of the “Strike Hard” anti-crime campaign usually reaches its peak.

And don’t get in any vans driven by people you don’t know.

* It should go without saying that casting the government into disrepute, raising a visible internal challenge to the authority of the state, or membership in an organization actively advocating change in the government’s structure and policies can all be considered “treason” and therefore will potentially subject you to capital punishment.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.