China: Akmal's death sentence, a resolute No to memory of humiliation?

Akmal Shaikh, a British citizen convicted of smuggling heroine into China, was executed on Tuesday although his families along with the British government had pleaded for reprieve, claiming that he is mentally ill.

The supreme court of China however dismissed the request of a mental assessment because the documents provided by the British embassy cannot prove that Akmal is mentally disordered.

After the inject of Akmal by lethal injection, the British government and some right organizations reacted fiercely. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned the execution and said he was “”particularly concerned that no mental health assessment was undertaken.”

Facing the critique, China expressed strong discontent. The spokesman of foreign ministry said the accusation is groundless and warned that the intervention might damage the bilateral relations between the two countries.

In China, drug trafficking is considered as a felony. Carrying or selling heroine of more than 50 grams will get death penalty according to the Chinese law, and over 4000 grams were found on Akmal.

To many Chinese netizens, the incident reminded them of the 2 Opium Wars fought in 19 century that British troop invaded China because Chinese officials burned up the opium
sold by British. China lost the war and suffered from the “100 years of humiliation” since then.

On, a major portal website in China, over 3000 people supported a comment left after the news piece, which writes:


What's anything special with a westerner? A drug dealer should definitely be executed.

Acekingfang, moreover, thought the execution shows China is rising.

同样是没收“鸦片”、惩办英国毒贩,170年的1839年林则徐的“禁烟”引发清王朝的世纪第一战,英国人靠鸦片和大炮打开了中国的大门…. 1856年清政府在“亚罗号”上逮捕了几名海盗,这一本属于中国内政的事件被英军当做发兵的借口而发动了第二次鸦片战争,150年前的1859年第二次鸦片战争中英法联军在天津大沽口战胜清军,进而向北京城发兵,此年火烧圆明园,烧杀抢掠,虏走中国无数的文物、财宝,使得中华民族遭受历史上最沉重的灾难和损失之一。

Differently, the confiscation of opium and punishment of British drug dealers 170 years ago led to the first war of China in the century, through which the British forced open the gate of China by opium and cannons. 1856 Britain launched the second Opium War, taking the arrest of a few pirates by the Qing dynasty as an excuse. The British-French troop defeated the Chinese army and then marched to Beijing, burning down the Old Summer Palace, and looted away tons of treasures, which was one of the most striking disasters in the Chinese history.


Today when the British drug dealer violated the law on our land, we can openly and rightfully punish him without any mercy. We don't need to follow the order of others any more. This shows that China can be unhappy, and the consequence of provoking China is serious.

zha811's comment demonstrated a similar mentality


If you would return some of the Chinese treasures kept in the British Museum which were robbed away from China, we might take your proposal seriously.

zhun2875 said,


It is our domestic affair. What has that to do with British?

In China, it is long complained that foreigners, in particular westerners, are treated as if they are privileged with a higher status. In 2008, a train made an unscheduled stop in order to send several Japanese passengers to the airport and even police cars were used to escort them. However, in another case a mentally ill Chinese citizen was fastened by the train attendants to the seat and left to death with no one tending him. This time, the court's ruling that treats people equally seems to win applause.

Wang Wen, a editor of Global Times, believes:


After all, the question of who and how to judge a foreign suspect in China has to be addressed according to the law of China. It is a matter of judiciary justice.

Some opinions hold that it is in fact a diplomatic failure of the British government because it doesn't really get to know how Chinese people think. It is echoed by the commentary:


I have my sympathy on Akmal and his family. Death penalty is harsh and, inhumane, as I always think. But as long as China has not yet abolished the penalty, and as long as other criminals are punished in the same way, Akmal should be no exception. Otherwise, a distinction made on purpose will only bring more tragedies.


In the past when China tried to extradite even the terrorists the western countries would often refuse citing the articles in their own law. The most straightforward excuse is the checks and balance of power and the independence of judicature. But this time, Britain seems to have forgotten the principle and put their hope on administrative intervention.


When Britain tried to make the case of something more than itself to force the Chinese administration to compromise the death of Akmal has been fixed. It is easy to see that the 1.3 billion people are weighing the life of Akmal against that of theirs. If the life of a westerner is precious, then ours are worthless?


  • I’m not the only one here in the UK who fully supported the execution. It’s appalling that our government and PM have nothing better to do than try to save the neck of a rightly convicted criminal. Good to see China didn’t allow itself to be bullied into reversing the sentence. Given the rotten justice system we have here (with criminals being allowed to run free), the UK is the last country that can lecture or criticize China.

    • Bill Posters

      I think that this act of judicial murder was carried out is an uncivilized bunch of jerks. The death penalty belongs in the dark ages, its mostly carried out by authoritarian s countries like USA and China.

      I know it don’t amount to much but I will do my best to make sure I never buy anything ever again that is made from these miserable places.

  • fiona

    Akmal Shaikh `s death in criminal cases of international crime has made the rapid escalation of the political and diplomatic freezing, with the foreign

    media that accused the majority of China’s disregard for human rights ,has once again pushed china to the topic of the wave above the crossing. But I want to

    explain it in my opinion.this time ,isurpport the sentence.
    it`s the first discussion of his spirit that most people are concerned about. firstly i need to express my condolences to his family. but we know that

    this is a grave crime and the law expressly provides that gives everyone an opportunity but still made, then Prior to this, where`s the family? If you have

    problems knowing that spiritual care was also careful not to enlighten, it has led to today’s tragedy for the family is also part of the responsibility.

    Before his arrest is not a person of casualties, but if he succeeds, four kilograms of heroin, will lead to the breakdown of family well-being of thousands

    and 27 thousand people will die! ! To solve the problem is important, however, we have more responsibility to prevent the tragedy.don`t take care only when

    it has happened.after that it`s not so simple to throw shoes, money to make up for things that can be solvedwe have no amount of money, more sympathy to pay

    youth and healthy body and we can never pay happiness back for once. Today is a AKAMAl, tomorrow there will be more AKAMAl.if international criminal gangs

    to target on these poor people and then? it will only causes more tragedies like Akamal, the mental problem will become an excuse for those people, and they

    have become the object of innocent, or ignorant remorse, or because of luck was arrested and saliva. Every person of a crime before the crime has done in the

    spirit of a huge struggle, you can make half a second, you can make life a crime then the spirit of the people to a certain extent have suffered varying

    degrees of combat, different from others, they can not get through. If for each crime, say that it`s their mental health problems leading to such behavior,

    and then they can escape legal sanction, never have reason to be always available from the dock out of the law. Yes, in law and sympathy we will be faced

    with difficult choices forever. But the law is not used to kill the people, but mistakes made by people should be well aware of the seriousness of

    Enlightenment is still Lost on the thousands of wandering soul, a moment can save ten thousands of people to save ,not only the victim,but also crime.
    In the Western world, human rights, we do have laws and practice on the degree of imperfect, but sometimes to save a person’s life, speaking of a

    person’s right to exist at the same time we are also push the 27 thousand people and families into hell deprived them of their right to have happiness.we

    are not Godand we can not let everyone get a satisfying answer, but we can minimize harm to the real sense, when the implementation of human rights so that

    everyone is focused, when the law Therefore, this is not a human rights issue, is human. Nevertheless, I see a blatant disregard for the street in some

    countries the youth drug abuse, but no one wants to persuade them o someone is blind to go away o to join the group,is it human rights and freedom? To meet

    the requirements of quietly in seconds the drugs have deprived them of their health , perhaps even they are blamed for making strange noise. Will be this

    time of the talk about human rights? So, we returned to the fundamental question of what is fair? What is the law? What are human rights? What is sympathy?
    Now we return to China ,this event trigger. Quoted some of the media following information:
    China news agency, Beijing, December 29 (Reporter Yu Zhanyi) – Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu at a regular press conference on the 29th,

    said a British citizen Ak Mao was sentenced to death for drug trafficking in China, was a stand-alone criminal cases.
    Jiang said China’s judiciary has been in strict accordance with Chinese laws and legal procedures to be addressed independently. “Drug-related crimes is the

    world recognized the serious crime and the serious harm to society, every country in cracking down hard. Throughout the case proceedings, Ake Mao’s

    litigation rights and entitlements have been duly protected. “she said, China still retain the death penalty, China does not yet have the conditions for

    abolishing the death penalty. However, China has strictly controlled and used with caution to death.
    so don`t always use the level european to misure china.we need to consider the conditions of state and in china ,the control of drugs has made better

    than other`s conditional on the accused out of the reality of forensic psychiatric considerations. Because a large number of suspects,

    particularly those facing the death penalty, almost all require psychiatric suspects identified, apparently some people want to pretend to psychiatric

    patients to escape legal responsibility, so the judicial organs of the forensic psychiatric screening of applications can not be accepted.
    Drug smuggling is a serious offense in the world, and China has a history of painful memories. Now China is extremely drug-related crimes hate people, in

    a recent Internet survey, 99 percent of the public to support the Court’s decision.
    The case during the trial, Akmal’s rights are fully respected and guaranteed. The Chinese side has taken note of the concerns of the British side of the

    case, the concerns of the British side has also been considered the Chinese judiciary. Humanitarian grounds, the China of Mao’s two relatives to the Ake

    issue visas to allow their hair to China to meet with the Ak.
    Xiamen University, College of Humanities Dean Zhouning 29 pairs of “Global Times” said the history of the world’s largest drug-trafficking is a British

    dry, when Lin Tse-hsu Humenxiaoyan with today executed Ake hair is very similar, equally angered the West, the West is now able to use military means to

    intervene in China. Zhou Ning said that from the humiliation of the Opium War memories to last a hundred years after the flood of extraterritoriality in

    China, which the Chinese people gradually have a mentality of fear of foreigners, until today could not completely eliminated.

    Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Research Office, Criminal Law Institute, said Qu Xue-Wu, the law has its own ruler, the Government plea not impede

    justice. China’s “Criminal Law” under article IV of the Criminal Code applies to the principle of equality, in which equality before the ark to carry the

    drug for more than Mao’s China, the death penalty since the law contains criminal points (50 grams) of 80 times, had the death penalty. There are a dig at

    the legal profession in China expressed that Western legal definition of mental illness are much more lenient than China, and even abnormal animal in nature

    can be classified as mentally ill.

    According to Hong Kong’s “Ming Pao Daily News” quoted the British “Guardian” reported December 30, during the British Ake Mao was sentenced to death in

    the incident, the British Government and public opinion is almost uniform-caliber right to criticize China, but also no lack of support for China’s the

    practice of sound. British “Guardian” editor White (Michael White) wrote that the West of China denounced the “hypocrisy and lack of sensitivity”, accused

    the British government of ignorance, forget the Opium War.

    White said in the article, here related to the Sino-British history, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Cameron (UK Conservative Party leader) should not

    be so ignorant of the Sino-British history. Europeans in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties of China started to trade, but the Chinese people do not need

    for foreign goods, the trade deficit make European unsustainable. By the 19th century, the British East India Company began importation of opium to China,

    China began a period of humiliating history. You may remember, but they (the Chinese) do not forget that they needed to recover Hong Kong in 1997, the

    burning of the Summer Palace is not yet rebuild. So, faced with the Europeans on the issue today in drug trafficking, preaching, China will not waver.

    Although China has executed 1,700 people each year, but the southern United States has the death penalty. Clinton and Bush served as governor had signed

    the book a lot of execution. China’s implementation of the death penalty and like the U.S. is a sovereign issue, China has the right to impose its laws, but

    this incident has become extremely high profile. British Foreign Office official Lewis (Ivan Lewis) even threatened to China, said: “I do not Zhizuo

    posturing of the threat.”

    White concluded by saying that the British side, said Akmal had mental problems, but what China’s mental health problems have different views, which is

    not difficult to understand. In fact, not only China, and other judicial system can have a different understanding, for self-defense and other issues such as

    the different legal system will have a different interpretation.

    At the same time, another British columnist Leo Mckinstry are British “Daily Mail” on the author’s criticism of the British Government, accused the

    proliferation of drugs in the United Kingdom has dared to ask the Chinese to release British drug traffickers, has shown Britain’s hypocrisy.
    Leo Mckinstry has said: “The treatment of the drug problem with the British laissez-faire and the surrender of the policy is different from the Chinese

    government is committed to protecting citizens from harm drug trade. I regret is not China’s severe punishment, but our country in dealing with drug

    traffickers , and other enemies of society, the lack of a clear-cut moral standards or efforts to crack down vigorously. In China more than 50 grams of drugs

    as long as you can carry the death penalty, so China is not only the United Kingdom to face the drug problem. British policy as a failure of their own, they

    are still enough gall lesson in China, that is what hypocrisy. ”
    However, we do not pick the old account but we want the whole world recognize the destructive power of drugs. we do not want to remake mistakes another

    time and the chinese painful history won`t repeat itself in other contries.
    (For the standard of English limitations, I hope you understand )

    • Sarkar

      Fiona, lets be honest, this trial had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with drugs. It had to do with the high number of serial murders in China recently, mixed with Chinese anger over historical issues, and a need for China to establish itself as a country that could stand up for itself. At no time, did those Chinese judges actually think about how many Chinese lives they would save by getting those drugs off the street, otherwise Shaikh would be in prison for life, not dead. But hey, who cares right?? This is all just about empowering China by any means necessary. I just hope your as happy with your country when they violently oppress and/or kill you or one of your loved ones to help further establish themselves as a powerful government. Good luck with that Fiona…

  • fppb

    You see what you will get when you bring drugs into China.Mr. Brown was grandstanding again.His delayed visit to China is understandable and remember not to bring drugs with you when you come.

  • While this case is about the law in China, it devalues human life, whether foreign or national. China executes for non violent offenses. I would be a hypocrite if I did not point out that I too reside in a country that executes. I would boycott Chinese goods, but in my country that would leave me with t-shirts and a vermont teddy bear. I believe that China makes the statement very clear, it is none of our business what China does within their own judicial system, there is little to no transparency with China. I am unmoved by the argument that the death of the brit spared 27k chinese families, as the find and arrest had already done that. Keeping him alive and imprisoned would have served the same purpose.

  • Manzoor H. Sarkar

    I think the case is very simple . The guy smuggled heroine knowing fully well that it was a felony case and punishable to death in China . Well , he wanted to make some quick bucks and took a risk , but failed and got caught . My view is that he deserved the sentence and I find it very wrong to mix it up with human right issues . This is not a case of Chinese authority punishing someone for protesting at Tiananmen Square or campaigning against authoritarian regime , instead it is just an ordinary but very dangerous criminal offense conducted in the soil of China . I find it even very disgusting when The British Government tries to meddle in Justice affairs . I also agree with some predecessors who viewed that it was always expected that the westerners , especially the Americans & the British are treated separately & differently than others . Ms PETRA pointed it very clearly and objectively .

  • Chinese....

    Funny, I wrote an eloquent piece explaining the travesty that China has just committed. And it was pulled because of a bunch of foolish Chinese that cant handle the truth being told to them. Thats why your government gets away with so much cruelty and filth…because you pathetically let them.

  • Chinese....

    You have to be kidding me….right? Well apparently not, because people in China are still crying so hard about what happened over 100 years ago that they cant grasp the momentous changes that have occurred the world over, such as human rights and systems of judicial review…
    I’m sorry to be the one to point this out, but did Mr. Shaikh’s family somehow benefit from the humiliation of China throughout history?? Or was it just that 1.3 billion people decided that they didn’t care one iota about human rights or anything related to them, they just wanted vengeance??? Because here in America, we would have tried him fairly, 4000grams of heroine or not (which believe it or not is a very serious felony here too, which can carry the death penalty). The key difference between America and China besides the obvious lack of freedoms and a collective national conscience in China, is that we would have at least conducted our own (albeit possible a sham) psychological tests….but apparently the Chinese court that decided all of this didn’t bother to consider these very important factors. Why? Because the Chinese Communist Party staying in power and fooling its populace is its most important goal of governance, unlike other countries that try providing for their populaces instead of brutalizing them. But then I suppose none of this matters, because the foolish Chinese sense of nationalism has just been satiated by MURDERING what could easily have been argued to have been an innocent man.
    I hope that all of the fine Chinese citizens that read this understand that I am not British. I am American, and I am from the South, and I fully believe in the death penalty, and I do not think that other countries should have the right to interfere in the internal judicial workings of sovereign nations. However, I am also not a fan of cowardice and ignorance, which is exactly what the CCP has displayed with this foolish act. The fact that the Chinese courts refused to conduct their own test of his mental abilities shows that they simply didn’t care, and knew that what they were doing was wrong, and was purely self-serving. And if this is the response that the Chinese people show to such a masochistic neglect of law and what is right, then you all deserve the brutality that the CCP levels against you.
    I would love to see one of the Chinese Communist Party members wives get arrested in America or Britain for smuggling. Then we would see the reports that this individual was previously diagnosed with mental illnesses, which would lead to the person being acquitted of all charges, and being returned home. The funny thing would be that had that Chinese officials relative done this in a country like China, that person would have been murdered…because it would look good for the government. Then the world would see a massive outburst of Chinese anger, and I personally cant wait for this scenario to play out, because then you (all of the Chinese citizens) would see that the rest of the world does things differently…almost as though we all live in the year 2010…But apparently the majority of Chinese citizens live in the 1800’s but have new fancy phones and thus think that they’re in the modern age. Well guess what, you want to live in the modern age, then truly do so, not just with the stolen technologies and the borrowed economics systems from the West, while using what are arguably simply a glorified extension of the Qing dynasty’s judiciary system.

    So to sum this all up:
    This message is to all of China:
    You can judge how you like in your own country, but dont forget, you will find yourselves in our countries, and while you may think that we will take advantage of that situation….we will not, because we are not petty and stuck in a time that was destroyed over three massive global changes ago. Think about it, WWI, WWII, and the Cold War have all occurred and changed the world, and yet your still complaining about some disgraces from 170 years ago. Come, China, join us in the modern ages so that we can actually move on and create a new, prouder, happier, more fortuitous future. Or….you can just keep killing innocent mentally ill people in the hopes that the rest of us out here in the real world will respect you for it.

  • Chang

    It was a criminal case. It is exciting to hear so many people talking about the contraversay of death penalty and human rights with concern, and even passion. But why the topic is not just about whether China should abolish death penalty or change procedure law? I was borthered by some “personal attack” of Chinese people. Is this a civilized conversation? If yes, plese discuss with due respect of other people’s feeling by talking after getting the full picture. Is it logical some Chinese folks connect British’s interference with special foreign judicial power in Half-Colony time? Is it logical the public link foreign drug dealers with China’s war againt opium? I think yes. Can outsider understand? Maybe some can some cannot. Is it fair for outsiders to say people who make such connections are disgusting? I think not. Please address the issue before jumping to show your own bias that would making other readers sick.
    IT IS A CRIMINAL CASE. Are there people who protested the result just because the defendant was a British citizen? Yes. I think they are biased, arogant and bossy. Are there people who concuded that the defendant was innocent because mental examination outside China’s cout that tried the defendant said so? Yes. Please show respct to the court and judge, even though you may disagree with the law and China’s judicial system. Are there people who protested the sentence because of unfairness of China’s substatial criminal law and criminal pocedural law regarding menta examination? Yes. Thank you for your voice. I do not agree total abolish of death penalty but I highly support procedural guarentee of fair trial. Finally, are there people who were upset because Chinese governmen or China’s court did not accept British’s interference? Yes. It is not abnormal for B goverment to make deplometic voice becaue government should protect its citizen and let its citizens’ protesting voice be heard by the world. There are many cases of deplometic intreference with other nations’ courts’ decisions. Was it wise for the government to do so? there is value to support it. However, is it wise for civilized people to expect such intereference to be successful? Absolutely not. It is the basic pinciple of international law that no nation should boss around disregading soveraignty and judical independence. It is common sense to criticize but with due respect. — Another Chinese law student’s thoughts.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.