China Overwhelmingly Supports Death Penalty for Corrupt Officials

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Chinese citizens overwhelming support imposing the death penalty on officials found guilty of corruption, according to a new survey.

According to Chinese state media, a survey conducted by the Social Survey Center of China Youth Daily this week found that a whopping 73 percent of Chinese citizens support the death penalty in cases of official corruption.

China leads the world in terms of capital punishment. Although China doesn’t release official figures on the number of people it executes each year, it is widely believed to execute more people than the rest of the world combined.

In recent years, however, it has taken a number of steps to reduce the number of executions it carries out. In 2007 it ordered that all capital punishment sentences must be approved by the country’s supreme court, which is believed to have drastically reduced the number of executions. In 2011 it also removed 13 crimes — including smuggling precious metals and excavating ancient tombs — from the list of crimes that can carry a death sentence.

Currently there are 55 capital punishment crimes in China, which is high by international standards. Late last month, a draft amendment to China’s criminal law was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress that would remove a further nine crimes from the list  of capital crimes. According to Caixin, the nine crimes are: “the smuggling of weapons and ammunition, the smuggling of nuclear material, the smuggling of counterfeit money, the counterfeiting of money, fundraising fraud, organizing prostitution, forcing a person into prostitution, obstruction of the execution of military duties, and spreading rumors in war time.”

Despite these reforms, the number of executions in China each year continue to far outpace the rest of the world combined. Amnesty International didn’t give a precise figure for 2013 but said that it was certainly in the thousands. Dui Hua, a legal rights group based in the United States, estimated that China executed around 4,000 people in 2010 (compared to 8,000 people in 2007, before the Supreme Court had to approve all executions).

The survey released this week was conducted online and had 2,105 respondents. The media reports contained few details about the survey’s methodology and it’s possible the survey used a non-random sample.

Still, the findings underscore the deep anger that corruption provokes among the Chinese populace. President Xi Jinping has waged an unprecedented anti-graft campaign since taking office in 2012.

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