Twofish's Blog

July 21, 2008

Notes on Washington Post article

Filed under: Uncategorized — twofish @ 6:42 am

The hardest part about writing the previous article wasn’t actually gathering the information.  It took me about an hour on google to track down the information in the Washington Post.  The hard part was that Donald Clarke ended his blog post with:

Thus, one can only conclude that when the law prohibited the authorities from doing what they wished to do, they simply didn’t give a damn.

And I had to struggle extremely hard to avoid saying something very snide and sacastic in response.

One of the deep ironies of this situation is that the purpose of a criminal justice system is to make sure that there is no rush to judgment and that the facts of a case are known so before one makes a final (and in the case of the death penalty irrevocable) judgment.  The trouble with snap judgments is that they tend to be based on prejudices rather than facts, and “Chinese officials are corrupt and blood thristy devils that don’t give a damn about the law” is just as strong and potentially dangerous prejudice as “(insert your ethnic group) are all dangerous terrorists.”  And the fact that everyone (myself included) tends to make these sorts of judgments is *precisely* why we have courts and legal systems, and why in any sort of argument about what happened and what the law should do about it, you need two skilled litgators arguing against each other.

What bothers me is that I’m not the Washington Post, and I was able to with minimal googling able to come up with data that the writer of the article seemed to be quite unaware of.

The most interesting part of what I found is that the key paragraph of the Washington Post article is just wrong…

The public execution of the men was a dramatic example of the massive, unforgiving security operation that has been mounted in China to protect the Beijing Games from what Communist Party authorities describe as an urgent threat of violence and anti-government protest.

If you look at the timeline of events concerning the execution in Xinjiang, it becomes quickly obvious that this statement is just wrong.  The two people involved were arrested  in January 2007.  Their trial occurred last November and was concluded in November 9. 2007.  The delay between November and now is in part due to an new procedure by which all death penalty cases are reviewed by the Supreme People’s Court, and in short the timing of the executions had absolutely nothing to do with the Olympics as far as I can see.  Also if you look at the charges against Mukhtar Setiwaldi and Abduweli Imin, they are pretty serious.  One thing that none of the Western reports mention was that during the arrest, a police officer was killed and that the defendants were charged with possessing  with 16 kg of explosives, 67 hand grenades, and two suicide suits.

Now one could argue about the unfairness of the Chinese judicial system and bring up the possibility that the defendants were totally innocent.  But it is interesting that as the story progresses what the defendants were *charged* with gets removed.


  1. All such good points! I never expect any objectivity (let alone truthfulness) from the American press. WAPO, NYT, WSJ – the lot – corporate media often still in the control (at least editorially) of a founding family with deep patrician sympathies (a la Henry Luce) for the the Chinese people, so they believe, and nothing but disdain for the uncontrollable “communist” Beijing government. It’s a shame as we so badly need news coverage on China that doesn’t just try to peg China as the new Soviet Union by which we compare ourselves against. State controlled BBC is no different as is the Economist with public-school-boy contempt for Chinese going back almost two centuries. Bravo to you and you efforts to bring some light into these lame bits of so-called journalism. Cheers.

    Comment by Sinomania! — July 24, 2008 @ 4:02 am

  2. […] over at TwoFish’s always thoughtful and thought inducing blog, entitled, “Notes on Washington Post Article” and “Washington Post Appears to Get Executions in Xinjiang Wrong.” Filed […]

    Pingback by China’s Olympics. Security Trumps Fun. Why Oh Why? | Business88 — July 29, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: