Who are the foreigners executed in China?

By Zhang Lulu
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, January 8, 2015
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South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed on Jan. 5 that a South Korean drug dealer had been executed in China. It is not the first time a foreign citizen has been given the death penalty in China. Since the year 2000 when China published the first whitepaper on drug control, a dozen foreign drug dealers have been given the capital punishment in China, and other foreigners were sentenced to death for other serious crimes.

A British man named Akmal Shaikh received much media and public attention before and after his execution. [File photo]

A British man named Akmal Shaikh received much media and public attention before and after his execution. [File photo]

What are the crimes punishable by death for foreigners?

The Chinese Criminal Law stipulates that foreign offenders in China are equally subject to the punishments that their Chinese counterparts are subject to, except for those who enjoy diplomatic privileges and immunities.

Of the 55 crimes that are punishable by death, most apply to foreigners as well as Chinese citizens.

Most offenders were involved in drug-related crimes

In recent years, most foreigners who were sentenced to death were involved in drug-related crimes. According to Chinese law, people who are convicted of smuggling, selling, transporting or producing more than 1 kilogram of opium or 50 grams of heroin or methamphetamine or a large amount of other drugs may face the death penalty.

As China is surrounded by major drug-producing countries, drug dealers are quite active in China, and most of drug dealers who were arrested or executed were from Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia.

Most foreign drug criminals are Japanese or South Korean

A total of 44 Japanese drug-related criminals were arrested by China in 2014, 33 of which have been given corresponding sentences, five people were executed, and six were given death sentence with two years' probation.

More than 300 South Koreans were serving prison terms in China as of August 2014, one third of which were involved in drug-related crimes. Four drug dealers have been executed since 2014.

A high-profile case

Of all the executed foreign drug dealers, a British man named Akmal Shaikh received the most media and public attention.

Akmal Shaikh was arrested in west China's Urumqi City on Sept. 12, 2007 for carrying four kilograms of heroin. Under Chinese laws, those who are convicted of smuggling or transporting more than 50 grams of heroin can be sentenced to death. Shaikh was given death penalty by the Urumqi Higher People's Court in 2008, which was reviewed and approved by the Supreme People's Court in 2009.

Britain made 27 representations to China, and the then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reportedly wrote to the then Chinese leaders seeking clemency. Despite that, Akmal Shaikh was executed by lethal injection in Urumqi on Dec. 29, 2009.

The most intense case

One of the most intense executions was in 2011 when three Philippine drug smugglers were sentenced to death and two others were given death sentences with two years' suspension.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III wrote to his Chinese counterpart seeking for clemency and said,"the issue will test China's promise of closer bilateral ties."

Some Philippine politicians even asked for resuming its death penalty in the country so that Chinese drug dealers in Philippines can be executed.

The most serious case

Of all the drug-related executions, a French national named Chan Thao Phoumy was involved in the most serious case. He and his accomplice produced as much as eight tons of methamphetamine from 1999 to 2003. Subsequent to his arrest in 2005, the police busted five cross-border and cross-region drug rings and solved 41 drug-related cases. The man was sentenced to death in 2010.

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