Chinese People Say “Yao” to Death Penalty


The Hit-and-Run Killer Yao Jiaxin on Court

Recently, a young Chinese student Yao Jiaxin has became a nationwide hot issue. There has been a hot debate on whether the Hit-and-Run criminal should be given the death penalty. According to my observation, majority Chinese people are saying “Yao”, which means “Yes”, to  the death penalty in this case.

On Oct.10th, 2010, Yao hit a young lady Zhang Miao in his car. When he noticed that the victim was trying to record his license number, he took out a knife and stabbed the lady eight times. After killed the lady, Yao escaped. Yao delivered himself up with his parents three days later. People believed that Yao’s father’s military background influenced the court to defend Yao: the Criminal Behavior expert Li Meijin from Ministry of Public Security maintained that Yao’s stabbing was involuntary, because Yao was learning piano and got used to this kind of repetitive actions; Yao’s friends, neighbors and classmates published open letters to request the court to consider Yao’s former performance as a good student while making judgments; the court even invited 400 students to do a survey about whether to give death penalty to Yao.

The actions seem to be absurd to Chinese public. From one hand, people believed that the expert and the students took the survey are selected by the court, and are not neutral and reliable; on the other hand, killers should be killed seems a natural law to most Chinese citizens. Considering Yao’s fearful stabbing actions after the accident, some Chinese people believe that he should face 10 times the death penalty. Yao’s friend Li Ying defended Yao on internet on April 2nd, saying that she would stab the victim similarly since she was trying to remember the license number. Her words infuriated netizens. People are worried about the next generation’s lack of respect to lifes and laws.

There was a similar case in Japan. A teen rapist and murder Fukuda escaped from death penalty for the protection law of teenagers. However, he seemed to feel happy for his victory after the judgment. He didn’t view the murder as a severe crime that hurt the victims’ family deeply. His attitude enraged the victim’s husband. After 14 years appeal, the criminal was judged to be executed death penalty. Fukuda began regret for his crime and feel sorry for the victims after he heard the judgment.

Connected with the Li Gang’s case last year, people began to fear about that Chinese laws would only serve those upper classes someday in the future. Though death penalty is definitely severe, I would say “Yao” to Yao’s case, to Li Gang’s case and many other cases. Killing the killer can not raise the dead, but the threat of death can force criminals to consider the consequences of  their crimes directly and sincerely. Besides, death penalty could always remind the Chinese privileged class that there is still some cost they can not afford for their illegal actions.

About ShuzeChen

Shuze Chen is a full time graduate student at SPR, Annenberg, USC. He comes from Jiangsu, China. He did his undergraduate in Advertising, Nanjing University.
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