Foreign identity can’t be used as shield to escape punishment in China

By Lu Xue

A woman on June 14 was murdered in Yinzhou district, Ningbo, East China’s Zhejiang Province. According to an online post purported to be parent of the victim, the victim is a college student in a local university and the alleged suspect is a foreign teacher who lectures at the college where the victim was studying. Local police announced on Saturday that it had arrested a suspect. But it didn’t identify the victim and suspect as a college student and teacher at the local university.
This case has triggered wide public anger in China, with many netizens calling for the death sentence for the foreigner. Some worry that the alleged perpetrator would get a lighter sentence if he is foreign.
Hong Daode, a professor of criminal law at the China University of Political Science and Law, told Global Times on Sunday that such a narrative is a complete misconception. Some people have misled the public in this regard. They tend to compare the results of similar practices by Chinese nationals and their foreign counterparts, believing foreign ones get preferential treatment.
For example, in July 2019, an international student in Fuzhou, East China’s Fujian Province, pushed a police officer who tried to stop him for illegally carrying a person on an electric scooter. This student was released after being criticized, which many citizens considered a very light punishment. They said if it were a Chinese, the punishment would be harder. Such rhetoric may have left many netizens the impression that foreign citizens who commit crimes in China will be given a lighter sentence.
But the fact is foreign nationals in China do not have extraterritorial rights, Hong said. “There is no such thing as a lighter sentence for foreigners who commit crimes in China. The legal provisions and judicial practice of China are absolutely equal to anyone regardless of their nationality, especially for criminal offenders.” Two Canadian citizens producing and trafficking a large amount of drugs were sentenced to death by Chinese courts in 2019 and 2020. Foreign identity cannot be a shield for foreign nationals to escape punishment in China. There is no doubt about that.
With globalization and China’s increasing openness, more and more foreigners arrive in China to seek academic and employment opportunities. Against this backdrop, cases involving foreigners committing crimes in the country have arisen. The public’s attention to the cases should avoid focusing on the nationality of the suspect, but on the cases itself.
Yinzhou police authorities said in bulletin that they will strictly regulate the law enforcement, and ensure to make their case with conclusive evidence. It is expected that Yinzhou police will publish more information related to the case when the investigation progresses, in a bid to dispel the public’s suspicions about the sentencing of foreign suspects.
Furthermore, many netizens appeal for stronger supervision and verification of foreign teachers’ backgrounds in both public and cram schools. Some online posts alleged that the suspect, who was married, had harassed female students several times. If so, the suspect’s basic professional ethics as a teacher must be questioned.
The quality of foreign teachers in China is indeed uneven. Three or four decades ago, when China’s economy was backward, many foreigners were reluctant to come to China. It is rational that the criteria for recruiting a foreign teacher were low. But as the country has witnessed a rapid rise in terms of social and economic development, greater emphasis should be attached to the quality of foreign teachers, instead of quantity. The basic requirement for lecturers in most Chinese universities are PhD holders or above, and the threshold of foreign teachers should keep pace with it.
–The Daily Mail-Global Times News Exchange Item