I was disappointed to hear that Akmal Shaikh the British man found guilty of drug smuggling in China was executed earlier this week by the Chinese authorities. Although disappointed, it was of no surprise as the Chinese were never going change their minds. What has surprised me is the number of articles I've read by people who are seriously promoting China's law and order and drug policies as something this country should be emulating!
I read today, what I'd describe as a terrible article in the Daily Mail by Leo McKinstry on this story. You can read it here. It's the sort of Mail article that has me shaking my head within 10 seconds of reading! Truly dreadful!
The British government had every right to lobby the Chinese in trying to prevent Shaikh from being executed, particularly when there was good reason to argue that they hadn't given enough consideration into Shaikh's mental health during the time of his arrest; refusing to allow a doctor to examine him properly. In his article McKinstry goes on to condemn this country's approach to drug abuse by saying:
It is the height of hypocrisy for the Labour government, the human rights brigade and celebrity loudmouths to lecture China when Britain's own strategy has failed so disastrously.
I suppose he's referring to people like me, as I'm a member of the human rights organisation Amnesty International. What I find ridiculous is the idea that because China executes drug dealers and users, and subsequently has little or no drug problem, it therefore has all the answers for dealing with drug abuse and maintaining law and order.
But it's not just him though. Reading in today's Daily Mirror the columnist
Tony Parsons wrote:
Crime is a bit different in China. Old people aren't afraid to go to the shops. You don't see mobs of drunks reeling around ...Women can walk around big cities like Shanghai and Beijing at any time of the day or night without fear of molestation. The People's Republic of China is in a word safe.
I suppose it's safe when you're not speaking out against the Communist government, or if you're not one of the various ethnic groups who are routinely oppressed, such as the Uighur people in China's far western provinces. It's safe when you're not being tortured within the criminal justice system, or being exiled to a labour camp without any charges or trial!
And lets not forget those people in Beijing who were forcibly evicted from their homes and districts to make way for constructions works for the 2008 Olympics. I wonder how safe it would have been for them to speak out against their governments actions. If any of them did, we certainly won't be hearing from them now.
There may be many problems with drug addiction in this country and the accompanying problems that drug abuse incurs but lets not start looking towards a semi fascist police state as a guide to how things should be done over here!
Returning to McKinstry's article, rather then try and argue why China's polices on drugs are successful, much of his article descends into an excuse to rant against a range of drug taking celebrities, before moving on to a predictable Daily Mail view of Britain in which criminals are free to walk the streets, committing crimes, without any punishment. He writes further:
The British government, with its prattle about human rights, likes to think a refusal to use capital punishment is a badge of a civilised society.
That's because it is!
The truth is the willingness to execute dangerous criminals is a sign of compassion. It means a government is determined to protect the vulnerable and maintain morality.
With regards to China this statement is laughable! The only thing the Chinese government are interested in, is protecting its vice like grip on power and instilling fear and control over its people.
Mckinstry finishes his article with what I can only describe as a totally ridiculous statement, one which reads:
The drug-fuelled, crime-ridden, welfare-dependent, fear-filled inner city housing estate in modern Britain is far more savage than any place of execution in China for a trafficker of human misery.
This last paragraph almost leaves me speechless! It's not the sort of thing I want to say, but if that's how he feels perhaps he should consider moving to China. It would be interesting to see how he gets on over there if he tried to write similar opinion pieces like this about the Chinese state?
If the British government's actions in this affair have damaged diplomatic relations with the Chinese, then so be it. I hope that should similar incidents occur in China or any other country around the world, then our government will act in exactly the same way again.