The latest cause celebre in the Sinosphere involves the execution of a man named Xia Junfeng, who killed two urban enforcement managers in what, at worst, looks like an unpremeditated homicide. Says the NYT:
In recent months, as his case awaited a ruling from China’s highest court, Mr. Xia’s plight appeared to be drawing a groundswell of public support, which is often a factor in high-profile judicial decisions. Donations to his legal fund poured in and media accounts sought to humanize him, describing how he and his wife, a former hotel maid, had struggled to provide art classes for their only child.
Given that China can and does occasionally use the judicial system to ‘please the people’ it’s certainly a possibility that Mr Xia’s execution was meant to send a message, as our own democratic politicians like to say. It’s also not hard to draw the link to Bo Xilai ‘s showpiece show trial, whose loose, Mike Leigh style choreography was meant to demonstrate that the rule of law was definitely a thing in China. In this sense, poor Mr Xia was simply an opportunity to backfill this notion through a timely performance of rigour.
There may also be a message here for the comrades, who have been under a certain amount of pressure recently. Executing Mr Xia tells them that while they might not have as much impunity as they previously thought, Boss Xi is equally severe with your average punter. As such, the execution restores the balance of injustice.
Elsewhere, ESWN has a fascinating assessment of how responses to the whole BXL affair conform with points on China’s emerging political spectrum. Rightist in this schema means market liberal (possibly but not necessarily democrat). Leftist means red-brown crackpot. Oh, well. Work in progress and all that.