Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Controversial stuff

Disclaimer - due to a lack of inspiration and direction today's post is going to be horribly narrow minded and right wing. Sorry if I offend anyone.

Yesterday 62 year-old Zheng Xiaoyu was executed by his government on corruption charges after serving as the head of China's State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA).

The former minister for product safety allegedly took around $800,000 in bribes to approve dodgy and/or untested items. Zheng's execution was ordered after a spate of export scandals including antifreeze in toothpaste, lead paint on toys, lethal pet food (killing thousands of American animals) and low quality drugs.

Despite confessing to his crimes the Peoples Republic showed no mercy, choosing to make a political example of Zheng and send a clear message to the world that corruption (in this public agency, anyway) will not be tolerated, especially in light of recent failings and with the approach of next year's Olympics in Beijing.

US Senator Chuck Schumer responded by saying: "If China thinks that its issues with food and product safety are going to be fixed with these types of executions, it shows how much they just don't get it."

Zheng's death was undoubtedly motivated by more than China's global reputation. This incident follows a period of infighting and jurisdictional chaos amidst the country's standardising bodies. Zheng was disposed of because he annoyed colleagues, involved himself in illegal dealings that caused untold damage to both humans and animals and because he made his country look bad. (It is estimated that around 300 million Chinese people are made ill each year by unchecked products).

I thoroughly believe in capital punishment for deserving cases (cold blooded murderers, paedophiles, terrorists, mime artists etc...) but we don't do that sort of thing here. Where Sen Schumer comes from they do, however the US death penalty is for extreme criminals, not politicians, and often takes years to enforce. At least the Chinese conduct swift justice.

Let me be clear, I do not condone the use of the death penalty for corrupt politicians like Mr Zheng but Chinese culture does and though I do not agree with the action taken I can, I think, understand it.

Speaking for the SFDA Ms Yan Jiangying gave an honest overview of China's regulatory problems, outlining why the organisation had been failing and the urgent need for improvement. The official openly admitted her department's flaws and made suggestions for its improvement. Regarding Zheng's execution she said that his behaviour was deeply shameful, enough said.

It appears the Chinese still have a sense of shame, which is, perhaps, more than we can boast.

Right, back to American senators. Reading about Senator David Vitter - involved with the infamous "DC Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey - in the British press, I'm amazed, as ever, by the power of religion. In response to the disclosure of his illicit dealings Mr Vitter said:

"This was a very serious sin in my past. I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counselling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there - with God and them."

God may have forgiven Mr Vitter but he neglected to notify Ms Palfrey, it would seem.


Jenny! said...

I support capital punishment and I am ok, with China's decision! I would actually support harsher punishments and more swift action on carrrying out death penalty.

James said...

Oh Em your such a righties (why do people call people lefties a lot but nor righties?)

I think ultimately no one has the right to take another humans life, although in some cases it can be tempting. When I saw yesterdays sentence for the 21/7 inept bombers my initial reaction was why bother with 40 years in jail and all the associated cost just hang them, but then my brain flicked back into normal mode.

Em said...


Perhaps, however the argument about social contracts is what sways me towards corporal punishment...People who piss on their fellow man should be held to account and punished depending on the severity of the crime - if they rape, murder or conspire to murder, why should they not pay in real terms?

The problems with administering an effective and just system of capital punishment, however, are nebulous. It's got to be a good deterent though...?

Of course jail terms for these types will be hell (good) and you never know, they might get done in by their fellow cons..