A report released this week by Amnesty International finds that China is overwhelmingly the global leader in capital punishment, executing more of its citizens than the other nations in the top five combined.
Amnesty International, which advocates for the abolition of the death penalty, evaluated the data from most of the world’s countries in 2013 and found that the death penalty’s use was on the rise in 2013 (the study excludes Syria and Egypt, as the state of judicial infrastructure in those nations makes it impossible to tell what is a homicide and what is state use of capital punishment). Internationally, countries executed 15% more people than they did in 2012.
The most astonishing figure in the study, however, is the overwhelmingly common use of the death penalty in China. Amnesty International notes that the 15% increase figure does not include China because “with the death penalty treated as a state secret, the lack of reliable data does not allow Amnesty International to publish credible minimum figures.”
The figures the organization does have, however, dwarf the use of the death penalty anywhere else. Over 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in China last year by the state for a number of government infractions that often have little to do with violence or theft and often stem from inconvenient behavior for the communist government.
The Iranian government came in second place with 369 executions last year, with Iraq in third place with 169 executions.
In contrast, the United States, which is often maligned for continuing to implement the death penalty at all, executed 39 people in 2013, and 41% of those incidents were in Texas.
China, as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, has used its influence to support countries that also have questionable human rights records. During the height of alarm over the Syrian Civil War, China and Cuba collaborated to prevent the Human Rights Council from condemning President Bashar al Assad for using chemical weapons against his people. The Chinese government also defended North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un after the United States issued a detailed report on the harrowing human rights abuses the people of North Korea regularly face.
Where China has come to the defense of many of the global community’s most flagrant violators of human rights, however, the nation attacked the West for alleged hypocrisy in condemning the actions of rogue states like North Korea. The Chinese government released a report last month evaluating human rights conditions in the United States, in which it roundly condemned America for a large number of human rights violations. The report blamed the United States government for the Boston Marathon bombings, listed last year’s government shutdown as a human rights violation, and accused late night television host Jimmy Kimmel of encouraging his audience to “kill everyone in China” and “promoting racial violence.”