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Public Opinion and the Death Penalty Debate in China

Zhang Ning


What role does public opinion play in the present debate over the death penalty in China? Should one settle for an image of unanimous public support for the death penalty? The starting point of this article is a study of the growing awareness among Chinese legal experts, during the first decade of the millennium, of the particular role played by public opinion. Faced with violent opposition to their project to abolish the death penalty for economic crimes, legal experts share their concerns when confronted with such popular pressures, which can be reminiscent of certain Maoist practices. Using analyses of certain recent cases, the author seeks to bring out the other dimensions that make up public opinion, in order to question an idea that is ambiguous and problematical in the context of today’s China.

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Electronic reference

Zhang Ning, « Public Opinion and the Death Penalty Debate in China », China Perspectives [Online], 2010/1 | 2010, Online since 01 April 2013, connection on 20 October 2017. URL :

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Zhang Ning

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