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China Says Tax Fraud No Longer Punishable by Death

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Someone, somewhere at the highest levels of the Chinese government must be -- has to be -- cheating on his taxes, because, for the first time since the country's Criminal Law took effect in 1979, officials have reduced the number of crimes punishable by death from 68 to 55.

The 13 crimes removed from the list by the Supreme People's Court are all economic offenses, including (but not limited to):

  • Carrying out fraudulent activities with financial bills

  • Carrying out fraudulent activities with letters of credit

  • The false issuance of exclusive value-added tax invoices to defraud export tax refunds or to offset taxes

  • The forging or selling of forged exclusive value-added tax invoices

  • The teaching of crime-committing methods

  • Smuggling cultural relics, gold, silver, and other precious metals and rare animals and their products out of the country

  • Robbing ancient cultural ruins

The Supreme People's Court has also "banned the use of capital punishment for offenders over the age of 75," according to the Shanghai Daily.

Wang Shenjun, chief justice of the People's Supreme Court

Doug Llewelyn, former co-star of the plain old People's Court

The official website of China's State Council Information Office explains that the government's new policy of "justice tempered with mercy" now means "a two-year suspension of execution for condemned criminals if an immediate execution is not deemed necessary."

This is quite a departure from the last "humanitarian" death penalty reform instituted by the Chinese.

A Xinhua news report in March 2005 said that Chinese courts have meted out death sentences with a gentle hand by allowing the execution of a condemned person to be delayed for one day, affording him the chance to see his family one last time and bid them farewell.

And, the reforms didn’t end there -- China devised a “more humane” way of carrying out the death sentences themselves:

Mobile execution buses.

Manufactured by the Jinguan Group, the 500,000 yuan ($66,000) rolling execution chambers allow convicts to be executed by lethal injection (rather than the traditional death by firing squad) “immediately after sentence is passed.”

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A Jinguan mobile execution bus

The switch from bullets to syringes is a sign that China “promotes human rights now,” USA Today quoted Kang Zhongwen, the Jinguan employee who designed the bus, as saying.

”I think it is definitely a progress for China and it shows more consideration both for the people sentenced to death and for others,” Li Guifang, vice-chairman of the Criminal Affairs Committee of the All-China Lawyers Association, told the IPS news service at the time. “There is less pain and quicker death for the convicted.”

If only the IRS were so lenient...
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.