News / Asia

Execution of Chinese Street Vendor Sparks Online Outcry

China has executed a street vendor convicted of murdering two security officials who he claimed assaulted him.
 
Xia Junfeng, who was put to death Wednesday, had maintained that he acted in self-defense in 2009 when two officials in the northeastern city of Shenyang started beating him during questioning. But the courts rejected his argument.
 
His wife, Zhang Jing, told VOA's Mandarin service her husband maintained his innocence during their last visit before his execution.
 
"He said, 'It was in rightful self-defense back then,'" she said. "He refused to sign the execution notice. He said, 'I did not commit murder. As long as only one member of our family is still alive, we will never stop appealing. Even when I am dead, you [Xia's wife] must appeal for me. It was in self-defense.'"
 
His case has sparked an outcry on Weibo and other Chinese social media sites, with many expressing sympathy for Xia and calling his sentence unjust.
 
In a post typical of many, blogger San Ju Ban 123 wrote on Sina Weibo, "[Do] ordinary people deserve getting shot to death while city managers can get away with even killing ordinary people? In China, ordinary people's lives are priced differently from lives of the government officials."
 
Many Chinese citizens have complained of official brutality toward street vendors. Several videos of beatings by urban management officials, known in Chinese as chengguan, have gone viral in China in recent years.
 
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Mandarin service.

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