Street vendor Xia Junfeng was executed by lethal injection Wednesday morning in Shenyang for killing two members of the infamous chengguan force, causing a wave of public fury across the Chinese internet. The Wall Street Journal reports that Xia’s name was one of the most searched terms on the Internet on Wednesday, as “hundreds of thousands of people signalled their opposition to the execution and their sympathy for his family.”
Though there was never any question over Xia’s involvement in the two deaths, the street vendor insisted that he stabbed the two officials in an act of self-defense after being confronted and beaten by a group of chengguan while selling meat skewers near what the officials claimed to be a forbidden intersection in May of 2009. However, he received enormous compassion and support from the public, as he was perceived as merely being the latest victim in the chengguan’s use of brutal violence.
The following is some of the many users responding to the execution on Weibo and Twitter, as compiled and translated by China Change:
@lihai54: Justice dies in front of our eyes.
@liushui1989: To kill Xia Junfeng means that Chengguan, or the government, is digging grave for itself.
@49laihong: Heavens, I can’t believe Xia Junfeng will be put to death tomorrow. How many more lives will this evil system destroy?
@wentommy: Execution without a just trial is a murder; execution without notifying the family is an assassination.
Other users online decried the double standards of the Chinese justice system as they drew comparisons to the case of Gu Kailai, the wife of fallen Communist leader Bo Xilai, who was only given a suspended death sentence after confessing to the murder of a British businessman.
As one Weibo user posted, “I don’t understand the law, I just know this one simple principle: if premeditated murder by Gu Kailai doesn’t result in the death penalty, then Xia Junfeng should not die. Those are my values.”
[By Lynn Zhong // Image via Weibo]