The government of People’s Republic of China says it will not abolish the death penalty, adding that the country plans to use capital punishment only on ‘a very small number of extremely serious criminal offenders.'”
According to a report from The Associated Press, China’s government published a report September 12, stating that authorities will “strictly control the death penalty and employ it with prudence.”
The country reportedly executes more offenders than the rest of the world put together. However, with its status as a world power with prominent roles in the United Nations, China says it no longer does so for most nonviolent crimes.
Capital punishment is a legal penalty in the People’s Republic of China. It is mostly enforced for murder and drug trafficking, and executions are carried out by lethal injection or shooting.
China’s law also observes the capital punishment for criminal offenses like treason, separatism, spying, arson, murder, rape, robbery and human trafficking.
The report says there’s no official data provided on executions in the country as this is regarded as “a state secret”. The public is generally not allowed to watch executions.
According to a debate on China’s use of the capital punishment, New York Times wrote: “Capital punishment has always been used by the Chinese Communists to maintain social stability, political order and to curb crime.”
Meanwhile, Death Penalty Worldwide says lethal injection and shooting are the only methods authorized by China’s Criminal Procedure Law of 1996.
Shooting executions were discontinued in 2010 per a People’s Supreme Court ruling of February 2009 which held that lethal injection is a more humane form of execution than shooting.
Lethal injection (using a mixture of barbiturates, muscle relaxant, and potassium chloride ) was legalized in 1996 and has been used since the late 1990s.
In June 2009, the Chinese government announced that it has a long-term objective to replace the firing squad with lethal injection. It is carried out in prisons or in mobile “death vans,” where prisoners are reportedly strapped to an electric-powered stretcher and injected with lethal drugs. The use of these vans has been decreasing since the late 2000s due to the expense of maintaining the vans.
At least one source reports that persons convicted of economic or political crimes may be more likely to be executed by lethal injection than persons convicted of general crimes, who may be more likely to be shot; however, that same source indicates that lethal injection in a prison facility is a less expensive form of execution and was initially implemented in high crime-rate areas where it would be more likely that offenders were being executed for general crimes.
The cost of a single dose of lethal injection is cheaper—at 300 yuan—than the 700 yuan price tag of a firing squad.
Scholars point to this factor, profit, ease of secrecy, and reduction of family complaints (due to massive disfiguration caused by shots to the back of the condemned’s head) as factors motivating the switch-over to lethal injection, which has progressed at a slow pace.
Human rights groups say death sentences are often issued after unfair trials and that too much weight is given to confessions often obtained through torture.