Execution virals in China

The Telegraph carries two stories about China today that raise some interesting questions.

 

The first is about a video, posted on a Chinese government website, showing a government official being executed. The story goes on to say that the clip was hugely popular and prompted calls for more executions of corrupt officials.

 

China hardly needs more executions – there’s already an annual bloodbath that dwarfs the execution rate of any other country. But anger at official corruption and the lack of transparency is understandable: there are now thousands of protests every year in China, many of them about this issue.

 

The second story is about the Chinese authorities’ refusal to allow grieving parents who lost their children in the Sichuan earthquake to hold memorials. This follows an Amnesty report last week, revealing how Sichuan parents who sought answers as to why schools had collapsed in the quake when other building appeared unharmed, had suffered threats, harassment and detention.

 

There’s a real lack of openness in China that is damaging to the country and its people – from cover-ups of SARS and bird-flu to tainted baby milk and schools that were alleged to be poorly constructed due to official corruption.

 What China needs is greater freedom of expression, so people can expose these issues, discuss them and even peacefully protest about them. It needs accountability and the rule of law, so those responsible are brought to justice. Online execution virals may satisfy a desire for vengeance and may be popular but they won’t help people.

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