外国记者 Foreign Correspondent

Reporting in China

Did we mention the Opium War?

with 16 comments

On Tuesday, Akmal Shaikh, a 53-year-old Briton who was caught in Xinjiang with four kilograms of heroin in his bag, became the first European to be executed in China for 50 years.
Shaikh’s case has caused uproar in the UK, where campaigners say that he was mentally ill and manipulated into carrying the drugs into China.
After sustained media pressure (and remember that this is Christmas time, when big stories are thin on the ground and papers lap up any news), the case has now been turned into a diplomatic issue, with Ivan Lewis, a British Foreign Office minister, saying the Chinese had ignored 27 appeals from the UK to reconsider the case and perform a mental evaluation of Shaikh. In Pittsburgh, at the G20, Gordon Brown raised the case with Hu Jintao and then again in Copenhagen with Wen Jiabao.
Mr Lewis said he was “sick to my stomach” at the decision to go ahead and execute Shaikh without testing his sanity.
I don’t know whether Shaikh was mentally ill or not. We now will not ever know. However, the story of his life is a sad one. His wife refused to have anything to do with during his incarceration and does not want her name to be known.
He has not seen any of his three children in the UK for years and was also reportedly estranged from his two children in Poland. He had spent time living homeless. His songwriting ambitions and his rambling emails suggest, at best, that he was extremely eccentric.
Article 18 of the 1997 Criminal Code states that the courts must be lenient with suspects who are mentally incapacitated and therefore unaware of their actions. However, the court has discretion to decide whether or not a mental evaluation is necessary. Mentally-ill foreigners have been treated more leniently by courts in the past.
I would hazard a guess that the local court in Urumqi would have been under enormous pressure to convict Shaikh and not to search too hard for mitigating factors. He was carrying a huge haul of drugs, 80 times the quantity that would have qualified him for the death sentence.
Moreover, as the Chinese embassy pointed out, Shaikh had no record of mental illness. He had not been committed to an institution for treatment.
Whether or not Shaikh was mentally ill, the rhetoric from both the UK and China, and the lack of understanding on both sides, shows again how poor the relationship is between China and the West.
On the UK side, predictable articles condemning China for barbarism, including one in the Daily Mail which macabrely sketched out how Shaikh’s corneas would be removed for transplant, would be more forgiveable if the UK took a similar stance against the death penalty in other countries, such as, ahem, the United States.

The reaction from the Chinese, however, has been to raise the spectre of the Opium War and of colonial extraterritoriality, when British subjects were not subject to Chinese law. Since I arrived in China, nearly two years ago, I reckon I have heard the Opium War raised at least twice a week, either in the media or in conversations with Chinese. This war took place 170 years ago and it is time that people got over it. After all, there are far more recent tragedies that no one mentions.

The fact that the Chinese embassy feels the need to point out Britain’s history of colonial oppression, and to suggest that current policy is influenced by events in the far past, does it no favours at all in terms of building China’s “soft power”. It merely reinforces the idea that China is stridently nationalistic and determined to be unaccountable.

It would win more points by outlining the legal process which convicted Shaikh, and by pointing out that every death sentence in China is now examined by the Supreme Court, a recent reform which has led to a dramatic decrease in executions.


阿克毛.沙伊克,在新疆因随包携带四公斤海洛因而被捕的53岁英籍人士,成为中国50年来第一个被处以死刑的欧洲人。

阿克毛的案子在英国引起了地震,请愿者称其患有精神疾病,且是被哄骗携带毒品至中国的。
经受住了媒体的轰炸(注意这可是圣诞假期,没什么重大事情发生,报纸媒体渴求任何新闻),这个案子现在演变成了外交事件。英国外交部高官刘易斯宣称中国无视英方27次对此案宽大处理并进行精神疾鉴定的请求。在匹兹堡的G20峰会上,布朗首相就向胡锦涛主席提过此案,并且在之后的哥本哈根会议上再次向温家宝总理提及。
刘易斯称当听闻法院没有进行精神病鉴定就直接判刑并执行死刑时,“恶心的胃疼”。
我不知道阿克毛精神是否正常。现在我们再也无法得知了。然而,他的一生是个悲剧。在其监禁期间,他的妻子已和他断绝了关系,并坚持隐瞒姓名。
他和他在英国的三个孩子多年未见,并且有报道说他和他在波兰的两个孩子关系也疏远。他曾有一段时间露宿街头。他写词作曲的雄心和杂乱无章的邮件表明,至少,他是个极端怪异的人。
中国1997年的刑法十八条表明对于精神有障碍的嫌疑人应该从轻处罚,因其不能辨认自己的行为。但同时法院有决定是否进行精神病鉴定的自主权。在过去,精神有障碍的外籍人士在中国的法院有被从轻处罚的案例。
我敢臆断当初判决阿克毛时,乌鲁木齐当地法院是面临了巨大的压力,也不能够费力寻求折中的方案。因为阿克毛携带了巨量的毒品,为此够判80次死刑的。
就如中国大使馆所言,阿克毛并没有精神疾病方面的纪录。他也没去过相关的医疗机构接受治疗。
不管阿克毛有无精神疾病,中英双方的政治辞令交锋和就此案彼此间缺乏理解认同,彰显出了一直以来中国和西方的关系有多糟糕。
英国方面,当然会有文章谴责中国野蛮,包括每日邮报的一篇报道,甚为骇人地描画了阿克毛的眼角膜被摘取做移植手术。如果英国在对其它国家的死刑采取同样态度的话,例如,呃,美国,可能会得到中方的一些认同吧。
中国的反应,却是联想到了鸦片战争和殖民侵略,那时英国的人事是不受中国法律约束的。
我来到中国快有两年。记得最初我每隔两周就会听到鸦片战争的话题,在新闻报道里或是和中国人的谈话交流中。这场战争发生在170年前,是时候人们该淡忘了。事实上,很多近期的惨剧却无人提及。
中国大使馆觉得有必要提及英国的殖民侵略历史,表明目前的政策是受久远的历史事件影响的,这与中国增强软实力其实没有多少益处吧。这只能让人们加深对中国不可理喻的民族主义,并一意孤行的印象。

如果能公布审判裁决阿克毛的法律过程,指出现在中国的每一例死刑都要经过高院的审查,或许能赢得更多的赞同吧,毕竟这一近期的举措使得死刑率大幅下降。

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Written by malcolmmoore

December 30, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

16 Responses

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  1. 1.事实上,中国中学近代史的教科书第一章讲的就是鸦片战争和南京条约。学生被老师告知,就像新中国成立标志着现代史的开始一样,鸦片战争是一个近代史的开始。我的意思是,教育起了很大的作用。
    2.绝大多数中国人都认为鸦片战争是西方血腥的资本原始积累的标志,这是意识形态教育的结果。因为卡尔·马克思就是这样说的。
    3.这件事情肯定是决策层做出的决策,而与司法系统无关。在中国,党委领导一切,党委领导下的政法委就是直接管辖法院和检察院的。无论是在中央还是地方,检察长和法院院长地位都是极低的,连重要会议都没有权利参加。

    kun1986

    December 30, 2009 at 8:12 pm

  2. 历史不能被遗忘,特别是对一个国家极其重要的一段历史。这个国家的凝聚力很大程度上来源于对中国近代历史的解读和反思。

    yang

    December 31, 2009 at 3:16 am

  3. Britain didn’t mention the opium war. Well, anyway, it was just one of the many wars you started in you past. It’s easy for you to say the “forget and forgive” thing.
    But you did mention “gunboat diplomacy” by some reporter named Goerge Pitcher at Telegraph. That’s so “opium war” and “great britain empire-ish”. And obviously, the chinese people didn’t take that too kindly.
    “Opium war” for us Chinese people was the bitter beginning of a long, miserable and humiliating history. We learned from our colonism history, the deaths of million Chinese people, that we should never forget “opium war”. So, what’s wrong with that and what the fuck is wrong with you people.
    Mel Gibson said somthing about Jewsish people and that nearly costed his career. History is history, accept it. If your country did something bad in the first place, don’t blame the victim of bringing this up. And easily labelling “nationalism” on Chinese people’s sentiment dosen’t help, because you don’t know, or you just don’t want to know the Chinese people’s mentality. Yeah, it’s easier to dismiss them as “nationalists” or “brainwashed commie”. Such lazy journalism.
    For the record, the Chinese government this time expressly said it was about “judicial sovereinty” instead of bringing up the whole “opium war” drama.
    It is the British government that blew this out of proportion. It was 4 kilograms of heroin, it happened in an airport of China, so the Chinese judicial department executed that man according to Chinese law. End of the story.

    Sun Ji

    December 31, 2009 at 1:15 pm

  4. I wonder the real intention of the British government this time.
    Public official protests, newspaper “China bashing” wouldn’t help, and the government people clearly knew that. If the british people really wanted to save that drug dealer, they should’ve done something under the table instead of putting pressure on China publicly. Their “efforts” actually cornerd the Chinese government (by both your condescending attitudes and the concerns of Chinese people) and only produced counter effect. I bet if China did spare that drug dealer, the next thing your journalists would say is the independece of Chinese judicial department and how the Chinese administrative body interfere with the judicial system. Anyway, you are always right, even if you are wrong, you are “righteously” wrong.
    So I reckon either the british government didn’t have any intention to save that drug dealer in the first place and they decided to start a new round of China bashing (christman time, no big news and people are bored).
    Or, the british government did something and it failed, and they wouldn’t let a british national die in vain. It is a perfect chance to trash the Chinese legal system and incite the China-bashing sentiment.
    Now, things are getting highly political.

    I think it’s kind of pathetic that the “Great British Empire” actaully use a drug dealer, whose heroin wolud kill thousands of people for a political show.

    If the british government really have anything against Chinese legal system or death penalty, bring it up at some human rights conference, but not this time!
    British people, drug dealer and the British Queen(face it, that woman was once the biggest drug dealer and slave trader in the world.) combined really won’t invoke any pleasant memory in Chinese people. Oops… did I mention the “opium war” again!

    Sun Ji

    December 31, 2009 at 1:50 pm

  5. It is time for we Chinese to get over the Opium War?NO!WE WILL NEVER GET OVER OR FORGET IT!
    我们中国人是时候该淡忘鸦片战争?不!我们绝不会淡忘或者遗忘这场战争!

    The Opium War was the beginning of modern Chinese history, and also the beginning of the history of China’s century of humiliation.Do we have any reason to get over, or forget the history of this humiliation?
    鸦片战争是中国近代史的开始,也是中国百年屈辱史的开始。我们有什么理由要淡忘或者遗忘这段屈辱的历史?

    I remember that Comrade Deng Xiaoping to the Hong Kong issue with Madame Margaret Thatcher once said of the negotiations: “The Chinese people are poorer, but WE are not fear of death.” Britain there was a clamor again for us to take “gunboat diplomacy”, which are just paper tigers only!
    我记得邓小平同志在同撒切尔夫人进行香港问题的谈判时曾经说过:“中国人是穷了点,但是中国人不怕死。”英国有人叫嚣要再对我们采取“炮舰外交”,这种人只是纸老虎而已!

    From 1840 onwards, China has experienced a century of humiliation. Chinese people into submission it? NEVER!
    从1840年开始,中国经历了百年的屈辱。中国人民屈服了吗?没有!

    In 1950, the Yankees tried to burn the flames of war from the Korean Peninsula and China, but they finally get what? General Clark recalled like this: “I was the first victory in the absence of an armistice agreement was signed by General of the United States.”Although the Chinese People’s Volunteers Army did not liberate the whole Korea, we gave all of the imperialists a lesson on the vivid!
    1950年,美国佬试图将战火从朝鲜半岛烧到中国,但是他们最后得到了什么?克拉克将军是这样回忆的:“我是第一位在没有取得胜利的停战协议上签字的美国将军。”虽然中国军队没有解放全朝鲜,但是我们已经给所有的帝国主义者上了生动的一课!

    Today, there are a number of Britons doing “follow the sun empire” dreams can be imagined as in the past, in China, from the beach shelves a few pieces of artillery will be able to let the Chinese government to yield.The Chinese people can proudly tell these Brits: “NUTS!”
    今天,又有一些英国人做着“日不落帝国”的旧梦,幻想着可以像过去那样,在中国的海滩上架起几门大炮就能让中国政府屈服。中国人民可以自豪地告诉这些英国佬:“呸!”

    Finally, tell these arrogant Brits this: if you have the ability,sent your troops to China, to have another “Opium War”; Otherwise, please SHUT UP YOUR F**KING MOUSES!
    告诉这些狂妄的英国人:如果你们有能力,就派军队到中国来,再来一次“鸦片战争”;否则,就请闭上你们的臭嘴!

    is3

    December 31, 2009 at 9:53 pm

  6. Why don’t you go ahead and tell all the African Americans to “get over” the slavery and stop talking about it incessantly? It ended at roughly the same as the second Opium War, i. e. “a long time ago”.

    wgj

    January 1, 2010 at 12:52 am

  7. 提醒所有的西方人,彭德怀将军曾经说过:“西方侵略者几百年来只要在东方的海岸上架起几尊大炮就可以霸占一个国家的时代是一去不复返了!”英国佬、德国佬、法国佬,你们在东方为所欲为的时代早已结束,面对现实吧!
    Reminded all Westerners, General Peng Dehuai once said: “As long as the Western invaders for centuries in the East seashores by erecting several cannons on to occupy a country is a thing of the past era!”Brits, Jerries, French guys, you do whatever they like in the east of the era has ended, face it!

    is3

    January 3, 2010 at 3:07 am

  8. Shame on this British journalist who has such deep hatred to Chinese people that he has completely lost basic human decency! Opium War was an important part of Chinese history, why can’t Chinese people talk about it? Of course, British drug dealers would love Chinese people to forget Britain’s horrible anti-human crimes, but Chinese will NEVER NEVER forget it! The biggest joke in the world since the 20th century has been: drug dealers, looters, racists, war mongers and barbarians in a few old colonial countries have been preaching “morality, human rights, freedom and equality” to peace-loving people (Chinese, Asians, Africans, and people in other regions). This British journalist, like some other people working for BBC and mainstream west media are the biggest hypocrits in the entile solar system. This “foreign correspendent”, like some of his peers, DO NOT have any moral credibility to talk about justice, morality, and human rights!

    Real justice

    January 4, 2010 at 11:27 pm

  9. Maybe Britain should allow all drug dealers in the world to move to Britain and happily enjoy “freedom and human rights” there.

    Are drug dealers loved by British government and media?

    January 5, 2010 at 1:58 am

  10. If 1840 is the turning point in Chinese nationalism, what about the periods before that? How did the Qing grow to have one of the world’s largest empires in the world? Was this a peaceful process? Has China ever apologized to the millions of dead people in Central Asia for its continual expansion, or is “imperialism” only bad if it’s done by the so called “Western” powers?

    如果中国人把1840年看作为一个转折点,怎么解释1840年之前的历史?清朝使用了什么样的方式来变成世界上最大的帝国之一?只用和平方式(当然不是,在故宫你就可以看到祝贺清朝暴力战争的证据)?这个扩展领土的过程是不是和平的?在这个用暴力的手段来侵略别人领土的过程中 (比如,清朝列强军队屠杀了四十万准格尔人),中国领导人有没有给住在中亚的人民任何道歉?

    西方的帝国主义要永远记在心里,但中国的帝国主义就是值得庆祝? 这个是不是用两种不同的道德标准吗?

    当然,我个人觉得任何人都不能说鸦片战争是一个好事,以后的不平等的条约也应该指责和记住。我个人也理解为什么,对中国人来说,这些历史那么重要(因为从这段不幸运的历史,就可以看清楚有一个很强大的国家和军队是那么重要)。我也知道,对任何民族或团体来讲,战争的侮辱是很难被忘掉。不过,老用道德性的语言来指责外国人的帝国主义,而完全忽略自己的帝国主义是不太公平。

    William

    January 5, 2010 at 6:40 pm

  11. THE boss of a Kentish Town minicab firm has disappeared after being ordered to
    pay more than £10,000 to a 24-year-old employee he sexually harassed.
    A tribunal ruled in June that Akmal Shaikh, the owner of Teksi in Fortess Road,
    had sexually harassed Sarrah El-Atar almost from the moment he hired her to
    work as a sales and marketing manager.
    He had instructed a recruitment agency to send him only the CVs of “well
    groomed” women under 25, and took Ms El-Atar out to dinner before she
    started work “to get to know her better”, he said.
    Once she started, he would stare at her and look her up and down, commenting
    on her “sexy legs and good body” and saying that she was young and pretty
    and that he would have “had” her if he was 20 years younger.
    He told her she had only been employed for her looks and asked often about
    her sexual relationship with her boyfriend, said findings published by the
    Tribunal. Failing to pay her more than half her wages, he complained that he
    had not had sex in seven months and was divorcing his wife.
    When he complimented her on her clothes and asked if she was wearing them
    to please her, she asked him to stop.
    In turn he accused her of dressing inappropriately – a charge dismissed by the
    tribunal.
    Within a week of writing a letter of complaint she was sacked unlawfully.
    Mr Shaikh and his son, Abdul-Jabbar, both failed to attend the tribunal hearings
    and sold the business to another minicab firm soon after it was announced that
    they would have to pay a total of £10255.97 in unpaid wages and damages.
    The 42-day period in which Mr Shaikh could have lodged an appeal with the
    tribunal passed last week.
    A spokesman for Concorde, the firm which took on Teksi’s business, said Mr
    Shaikh had since “disappeared”, adding: “His decision to sell probably had
    something to do with this case – we don’t have anything to do with him.”
    Ms El-Atar said: “I’m relieved to have won the case, which was prolonged by
    this man’s delay tactics.
    “It is good to have cleared these slurs from my name but I still have not had a
    penny of what I am owed and the letters my lawyer has sent demanding the
    money have not been answered.”

    David Mao

    January 6, 2010 at 10:29 pm

  12. 好笑了咧
    精神病能带着那么沉的毒品坐飞机到中国一路顺风没啥事?
    你给我找一个严重精神病的患者做到这一点来看看。
    你当我们中国人和你们英国人一样好骗?搞笑。
    还民族主义,不和你们意的都加民族主义?你们讲理吗?
    169年!!当然,对一个文明历史只有1000多年的国家来说,这个时间还是挺长的= =
    对我们来说,这算毛历史呀?就是近代

    - -

    January 10, 2010 at 10:45 pm

  13. 100个中国人100个都知道鸦片战争,100个英国人里大概不到5个知道他们的祖国曾经为了强行向一个东方国家输入毒品而发动一场战争,而且这场战争直到现在他们还不承认是为了毒品输入而发动,只叫做“贸易战争”,哈哈。不要跟白人讲正义,正义只存在于白人和基督徒世界里。

    我支持处死任何一个携带超量毒品进入中国的人,尤其是英国人,不如人大修法吧,英国人的标准减半?以后提醒你们的朋友,精神病人或疑似精神病人别来中国。

    英国人因此事的反应是受到羞辱,他们的政府有真的关心阿克毛吗?两年的时间足够他们拿出东西跟中国政府在桌子底下交易了,傻子都知道中国政府没啥东西不可以交易的。

    那他们就接受羞辱好了,反正他们以前给予别人的羞辱足够多了,慢慢偿还。

    phillip

    January 11, 2010 at 10:22 am

  14. Let’s say now there is a war against UK to make it the most poor country in the world. And let’s make UK continue to be the most poor country in the world for 100 years. Then finally let we say that you UK people should forget the war since it has been a long long time. Do you UK people enjoy it?

    Richard

    January 12, 2010 at 9:11 am

  15. if we chinese forget the history of “Opium Wars”, then we are deserved to be slaved!!! we can forgive but we shall never forget!!!

    the case was irrelevant until british government and british press tried to politicize the case.

    ipfreak

    January 12, 2010 at 11:47 am

  16. “On the UK side, predictable articles condemning China for barbarism, including one in the Daily Mail which macabrely sketched out how Shaikh’s corneas would be removed for transplant, would be more forgiveable if the UK took a similar stance against the death penalty in other countries, such as, ahem, the United States.” – Don’t worry. Your government will never ever be against USA.

    Btw, If he was homeless, I am curious how he paid for the airplane tickets. Who manipulated him? If Mr. Brown was really concerned about it. Finding this manipulator and proving it in your country should be a piece of cake. So, who is it?

    For safety, the Britain drug traffickers or drug dealers should not go to China forever. IT IS REALLY DANGEROUS. HaHa~~

    Yan

    January 12, 2010 at 12:52 pm


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