According to reports from the Chinese government's state-run media organization, Xinhua News Agency, China has executed in the last week as many as 52 people found guilty of drug law violations.
Ten drug offenders were executed the day after China, marking the UN's International Anti-Drug Day, vowed "no mercy" for drug crimes, state media said.
State media reported seven drug traffickers executed in Beijing late last week, while 11 people were executed by gunshots Friday following an anti-drug rally in Chengdu, capital of Guangdong province. In southern Guizhou province, nine were executed for heroin trafficking, and eight more in northwestern Xinjiang province.
Anyone convicted of trafficking 50 grams or more of heroin in China faces the death penalty.
Hang Ming, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, said the severe penalties were consistent with international standards.
The spate of executions came just days after US drug czar Barry McCaffrey shared the stage with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Fengrui, director general of the Narcotics Control Bureau of China's Ministry of Public Security. The two jointly announced agreements between the two countries to fight drug trafficking by sharing evidence and intelligence on crime and drugs.
"This is an important moment," McCaffrey told reporters at the Beijing press conference. The agreement will "open a door leading to far wider cooperation against drugs," said McCaffrey.
Yang, standing at McCaffrey's side, added that the agreement marked a new stage of cooperation, noting that "international drug problems need international cooperation."
The agreements are expected to lead to much broader cooperation in several areas, including money laundering and control of precursor chemicals. McCaffrey also urged his hosts to allow the FBI to open a Chinese office to assist in joint investigations. "We want to see an FBI presence in China," he told reporters.
When questioned by DRCNet about his country's harsh measures toward drug offenders, Chinese Embassy press councilor Chang Yuan Yuan responded, "China, like some American states, still practices capital punishment. Whether to have capital punishment is a choice China will make." Chang added that, "Some drug crimes are punishable by death."
When queried about how China would respond to any efforts to link improved relations to changes in the Chinese criminal justice system, Chang told DRCNet, "I don't see why there should be any linkage." As for death penalty reforms, he said, "It will be up to us. We will not yield to pressure from other countries."
The Office of National Drug Control Policy, as the drug czar's office is formally known, did not respond to DRCNet's calls for comment.