PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 17/60/99
EXTRA 171/99 Death penalty / Fear of imminent execution 2 December 1999
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (PRC) Cai Xiong
The Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court ‘recently’ sentenced Cai Xiong and Xie
Zhuxin to death for allegedly forging, selling and smuggling foreign currencies.
If they appeal their chances of success are remote. Executions can take place
hours after sentences have been confirmed and appeals rejected.
It was reported in the Chinese media that, from September 1995 to March 1997,
Cai Xiong, a Hong Kong resident, conspired with Xie Zhuxin (a Guangxi native
from Guiping), to forge Taiwanese and Hong Kong money. Reportedly between July
1995 and March 1997, Cai Xiong, Xie Zhuxin and others organized people to buy,
sell and smuggle huge amounts of forged currencies in Shenzhen, Zhongshan and
In the same case, another 26 people were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment
and an unknown number to the death penalty with a two year reprieve (they are
given a 2 year stay of execution which may, at the end of that time, be commuted
to life imprisonment).
The death penalty continues to be used extensively, arbitrarily, and frequently,
as a result of political interference. Mass executions are often carried out
prior to major events or public holidays such as the December New Year and the
Chinese New Year in February. Many of those sentenced may be accused of relatively
minor crimes which may not normally attract such a harsh sentence.
Based on incomplete public reports for 1998, Amnesty International recorded about
2,701 death sentences and at least 1,769 confirmed executions. From 1990 till
the end of 1998, Amnesty International recorded over 25,400 death sentences and
over 16,600 executions. These figures, however, are believed to fall far short
of the real figures, as only a fraction of death sentences and executions carried
out in the country are publicly reported. Even based on this limited record,
the government continues to execute many more people than the rest of the world
put together. Execution is by shooting or lethal injection.
A revision to the Criminal Code in March 1997 confirmed the increasing scope
for the use of the death penalty, incorporating new crimes punishable by death
which were previously covered by regulations, as well as redefining others.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express and airmail letters in
English, Chinese or your own language:
- urging that the death sentences imposed on Cai Xiong and Xie Zhuxin be commuted;
- urging the government to exclude non-violent crimes, such as currency forging,
from the death penalty as recommended by the United Nations Special rapporteur
on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions;
- urging that the arbitrary and massive use of the death penalty in China be
- expressing opposition to the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate form
of cruel and inhuman punishment and as a violation of the right to life as
guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.