Monday 24 July 2017

Western cant at China beggars belief

China's execution of a man convicted of breaking the law is not earth-shattering news, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

Eilis O'Hanlon

AKMAL Shaikh is -- or rather, was -- the first European citizen to be executed in China in 50 years. During that time, the Chinese authorities have done to death tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of their own citizens without provoking a fraction of the same outrage which the death by lethal injection of this 53- year-old father of five, convicted two years ago of smuggling heroin into the country and finally executed last week, brought in its wake.

Actually, that's not fair. Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have long been critical of the record of the People's Republic of China. It is the media which has largely chosen to ignore Chinese abuses, while emoting loudly every time the switch is pulled on some serial murderer in an electric chair in Huntsville, Texas. As a result, the general public could be forgiven for thinking that it is America which does away with the most prisoners each year, when in fact our Yankee cousins are, in per capita terms, in the halfpenny place in that particular department, trailing well behind their Muslim counterparts in Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as other Asian countries such as North Korea.

That kind of whataboutery isn't very productive, admittedly. Nothing would ever be said or done if, every time someone raised an important issue about human rights, someone else instantly shot back: "Yeah, but what about X?" (insert your own random hobby horse).

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