The French media and intelligentsia have an annual petition ritual. It’s the fashionable thing for Paris’s literati to sign a text condemning the death penalty – in the United States. However abhorrent the practice may be, the fact is that the death sentence is not given frequently in America. It exists because of a democratic consensus and an independent judiciary. I, too, belong to the band of signatories. Over the years, I have tried hard to get the text to condemn China as well. So far, I have been unsuccessful.
Why China? they ask me. Perhaps all those who are shot down and dismembered really were guilty, they think; capital punishment, unacceptable in the United States, might be good for the Chinese; the death sentence could act as a deterrent to stem China’s widespread violence. Does this mean that the Chinese government is legitimate in killing its subjects, whereas the Americans are not? Are we suggesting that a Chinese life is not worth an American life and that human rights do not apply to the yellow race? That is not the real issue, say some. We would do better to respect the cultural characteristics of the Chinese than to impose our ideas on them – even though the Chinese constitution does refer to human rights now. Between the sinophiles on the one hand and the America-bashers on the other, good sense has been throw to the winds.
- Guy Sorman, The Empire of Lies (2006)