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Execution of British man Akmal Shaik in China marks end of Laissez-faire

December 30, 2009 – 11:19 am

A few days ago the British man Akmal Shaik was executed in China by leathal injection. Akmal Shaik was sentenced to death after he was caught with 4 KG of heroine in his baggage. There is widespread protest against the execution of Akmal Shaik in the western media and from the Britsh government. Other western governments are concerned. A number of questions arise, regarding this western concern.

About the western concern

The British government said, Akmal Shaik suffered from a mental illness. They sent evidence to China supporting this. However the Chinese rejected this. If this evidence is true or not is questionable. Akmal Shaik worked as a taxi driver in busy London for several years. How can he drive a taxi there without a healthy mental state? Sometimes bad guys attach some illegal stuff to travelers baggage without the travelers knowing. But how can anyone attach 4 KG of heroine to a bag without provoking attention? The bad guys didn’t. Instead they handed it to Akmal Shaik directly, the British man in his 50s knew what he was carrying. Even if he was ill a little bit, he should have known that 4 KG of heroine can’t be a good thing.

With that being said it is surprising that there is such strong protest from the British government and western media. Also some China related forums discuss this matter with surprising empathy.

Akmal Shaik as a symbol for the end of Laissez-faire

I guess the real concern is, how will criminal cases of foreigners in China be handled in the future. Previously Western criminals were just sent home once the dust settled. Whatever a Westerner did in China, for the most crimes he would just be put in a plane and got a one way ticket out of China. In the harsher cases he might get into prison, but as soon as the dust is gone he found himself on a flight towards his homecountry.

Also the police accepted that foreigners can do whatever they want in China. They looked away for minor crimes. Many people are right now shaking because this poliy might change. Let me give me an example of who might be affected.

This change is of particular interest to those, who reside in China in some kind of gray area. People who stay in China on a student visa while working as a teacher or tutor. People who work in China on a business visa instead of a proper working visa. Some even direct a multinational corporation out of their Sichuan countryside retreat, staying there on a chain of tourist visas. These guys probably switched over to student visas after long term tourist visas are no longer available, but that doesn’t make their activities legal.

We Westerners have a lot of freedom in China. If I want to go to China I just go the Chinese embassy, pay 50 Euro, wait 3 hours and then I receive a Chinese tourist visa. Other types of visa are also fairly easy to obtain. Now ask an average Chinese person about the trouble he has to suffer before getting a US or EU visa. A lot of Westerners are afraid that the Chinese law will enforced the way it is enforced in the West. That their gray zone activities may come to an end. That we will be treated like we treat them. Laissez-faire is over.

Protecting power, wealth and special treatment is inherent in human nature. Previously China’s visa policy was such a special treat. The mild handling of foreign wrongdoers also was. This should explain the uproar. Akmal Shaik was the message of China to mark this end. In his particular case the sentence might be a little steep and I think that’s really unfortunate. No one should be used for political reasons. But the fact is, beginning from now, Westerners should read the Chinese law, before doing something the shouldn’t, or they should cover their operations better. A lot of people are not going to like this.

New words

神经病 shén jīng bìng – mentally ill (insult)
精神病 jīng shén bìng – mentally ill (medical term)

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  1. 7 Responses to “Execution of British man Akmal Shaik in China marks end of Laissez-faire”

  2. test

    By justrecently on Dec 30, 2009

  3. Sorry for the test comment – before going to some length, I wanted to make sure that my maths skills are good enough for your commenting threads. :)
    Rule of law should apply on everyone, no matter where he or she is from. That said, you can be a perfect cab driver with bipolar mental disorder – the illness is rather about if you show up at work at all, or if you spontaneously let your boss down and record a pop song in a phone booth instead.
    The problem of course isn’t – or shouldn’t be – that a European was executed. The problem is that China (if it is true that Akmal Shaik’s lawyer had no chance to talk with him alone and that Shaik’s mental state was out of the account) wanted to demonstrate its power to say no, rather than to safeguard an individual’s fair trial.
    Same with state secrets. Both you and I can be arrested in China for stealing some, without even knowing the charges, as there is no firm definition of what state secrets are.
    Westerners have a lot of freedom in China indeed, while it lasts. But China’s government has the freedom of arresting anyone on any charges, as it suits them.
    Both Liu Xiaobo’s (arguably an admirable man) sentence of last week, and Mr Shaik’s (arguably a poor idiot) execution of this week have raised my awareness that China is probably not as safe a country for foreigners – both law-abiding and others – as it once tried to make us believe.

    By justrecently on Dec 30, 2009

  4. It’s a sad story… I understand the anger of his family and the people close to him. Wish them all the best.

    By MKL on Dec 30, 2009

  5. Justrecently,

    welcome back, Your math skills are still excellent ;) When posting a long comment, just copy it to a local file. If anything goes wrong You still have a backup.

    I agree to Your conclusions on this matter. Too sad. We have to find another safe haven now :o


    I agree, the death penalty should be abolished everywhere. We are no longer barbarians. I hope the family and friends can find the power to look forward.

    By Hendrik on Dec 30, 2009

  6. Well, foreigners could be sentenced to death before, especially Africans. This poor guy was just not really European in Chinese eyes… a lot in China still depends on skin color. However, a better law enforcement and higher legal compliance standards also have lots of advantages. They might mean that some get punished – but they also mean that cases will be treated fairer. In addition, this standards will also affect the country’s economy – and lead to a better protection of both, intangible goods and human rights.

    Anyway, as long as we’re not messing with the country’s interests, the government is also not messing with ours. That’s fair enough for me. And those faggots who commited crimes and messed around in China… well.. they wouldn’t have a good life in Europea or anywhere in the world either. Call it euthanasia.

    By Aremonus on Jan 1, 2010

  7. So, we still have to wait until a white-skin is executed ;)

    Another year, another chance. Maybe China can bring something positive to the table this year.

    By Hendrik on Jan 2, 2010

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