These articles make interesting reading:
A long death row
NO ONE disputes that China is a rising great power thanks to its tremendous economic growth. But an announcement Tuesday May 29th cast several clouds over China’s reputation. The government says it will execute Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of its food and drug regulator, for corruption. The news represents a remarkable confluence of bad press for China: that high-level corruption is rampant, that its products have killed people and animals around the world, and that the country advertising its “peaceful rise” is a harsh, execution-happy dictatorship.
A mixed picture
China executes more people than all other countries combined: unofficially, as many as 8,000, according to Amnesty International, a human-rights group. While the annual estimated number of executions fluctuates (1,591 in 2006—some 40% higher than in 2003), Amnesty notes that there is a global shift away from the death penalty. The total number of countries carrying out executions has fallen from 40 to 25 in a decade, and 129 countries are abolitionist in practice. America is one of only five democracies still to use the death penalty.
FOR all its avowed atheism, China is quite taken with the Christian idea of original sin. The term has become a fashionable one in the state-controlled media, though used almost exclusively in reference to one group of people: wealthy private entrepreneurs. As more prominent businessmen in China fall foul of the law, a debate is raging about whether any of them acquired their wealth entirely legally.