Article China: Death Penalty Crimes to Be Further Reduced

(Sept. 22, 2015) On August 29, 2015, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) adopted the Ninth Amendment to the PRC Criminal Law. The 52-article Ninth Amendment will take effect on November 1, 2015. (Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Xingfa Xiuzheng An (Jiu) [Amendment to the PRC Criminal Law (9)], NPC official website.)

The Eighth Amendment to the Criminal Law, adopted in 2011, had abolished the death penalty for 13 crimes; the Ninth Amendment will further abolish capital punishment for nine crimes, leaving 46 crimes in the Criminal Law still subject to the death penalty. (Fei Baoli Fanzui Sixing Ying Zhubu Feichu [Death Penalty Should Be Gradually Abolished for Non-Violent Offenses, FAZHI RIBAO (Sept. 14, 2015).)

The nine crimes that will be exempt from the death penalty under the Ninth Amendment are:

  • smuggling of weapons and ammunition;
  • smuggling of nuclear materials;
  • smuggling of counterfeit currency;
  • counterfeiting of currency
  • fundraising fraud;
  • organizing prostitution
  • forcing others into prostitution
  • obstructing the performance of military duties; and
  • spreading rumors during war time. (Id.)

Fundraising fraud (also translated as “raising funds by means of fraud”) has been especially controversial as a non-violent crime subject to the death penalty. The Eighth Amendment ended capital punishment for other fraud-related crimes in the Criminal Law, i.e. negotiable instruments fraud, financial instruments fraud, and letters of credit fraud. The recent sentencing to death of two business persons convicted of fundraising fraud has generated heated debate. In the case of Wu Ying, a Zhejiang businesswoman, the Supreme People’s Court in 2012 overturned her death sentence and sent her case back to the Zhejiang Province Higher People’s Court for re-sentencing, where the sentence was reduced to death with a two-year reprieve, and then in 2014 to life imprisonment. In the case of Zeng Chengjie, however, the death sentence was approved, and the Hunan businessman was executed in 2013. (Jizi Zhapian deng 9 xiang Zuiming Ni Quxiao Sixing [Death Penalty Under Consideration to Be Abolished for Nine Crimes Including Fundraising Fraud], XIN JING BAO (Oct. 28, 2014).)

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