Home > News, Opinion > China deserves criticism for lack of rule of law in Brit sexual assault case

China deserves criticism for lack of rule of law in Brit sexual assault case

Brit visitor beaten after caught attempting to rape a Chinese woman in Beijing

Remember this pervert who was caught trying to rape a Chinese woman in Beijing in early May? According to this People’s Daily report, that Brit was deported yesterday.

What happened to rule of law? If the damning evidence is not enough to convict this perp, then let him be. Otherwise sentence him to whatever punishment he deserves. Deporting him now that the whole of China has seen what he has done and about to do next shows that the Chinese government is spineless, and more importantly, lacking respect for the rule of law. To the world, criminality seems to be negotiable in China. Wrong message, China. That is definitely not what China is aspiring to. Big mistake.

Am I missing something?

Remember Michael P. Fay? Even a tiny city state of Singapore could persist in her rule of law despite pressures from former President Clinton.

The person responsible for making the deportation decision must justify to the Chinese public why there was no trial.

[Update June 14, 2012]
See reader William’s insightful comments below.

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  1. denk
    June 14th, 2012 at 02:50 | #1

    china in 1950 was 4th world country
    no money, no economy, no nuthing, even something like nails had to be imported
    but it had spine
    it fought the world’s mightiest armed force to a stand still in korea

    china today is *rich*
    but corrupted n without spine
    so its *turn the other cheek* all the way

  2. pug_ster
    June 14th, 2012 at 07:16 | #2

    I agree that the Chinese government is kind of spineless about this episode. But I think that there was some kind of backroom negotiations to get this guy out. Perhaps the British government has paid a significant amount of money to the woman and he was able to get away with it. I know that it is not right, but that’s life.

  3. William
    June 14th, 2012 at 08:52 | #3

    I agree that it’s very bad PR. Let’s think not only of Michael Fay but also of the UK citizen Akmal Shaikh who was executed in China for drug smuggling. If fear / diplomatic pressure did not deter China from sentencing Akmal Shaikh, what’s the problem here?

    My best guess is domestic PR. The wannabe rapist (WR, real-life name still unknown?) was the subject of 2 videos that were widely circulated online. This coincided with a tide of anti-resident foreigner sentiment. That tide of sentiment appears to have died down …

    … except that trying and sentencing WR in a Chinese court would cause a domestic PR problem. The UK could reasonably ask, have the people who were videoed beating and kicking this criminal suspect in the street also been arrested and tried?

    If the answer is NO, then the UK consulate can instantly claim discrimination. Failure to deal with all instances of (suspected) lawbreaking = no rule of law. The bystanders should, of course, simply have restrained the suspect till the police arrive.

    If the answer is YES, there will be a storm of anti-government sentiment online. Why did you arrest our patriotic heroes?

    A low-key settlement avoids this dilemma.

    With Michael Fay, there was only one suspect. No complications. It played in to Singapore’s existing image of being safe and clean. (It isn’t 100% of either – I’ve seen more than 1 fight in the street there). It also played well to a conservative/nostalgic crowd in the USA and elsewhere.

    Oh yes, the Akmal Shaikh case. No other suspects there either – the people calling for leniency pointed only to drug smugglers based outside China who gave/planted the drugs in question. Their argument was more procedural – should he not have been judged insane? Doing that, too, might have opened up a can of worms domestically.

    We can have a whole different discussion about how much the Chinese government influences / controls public opinion. I still don’t know the answer to that.

  4. June 14th, 2012 at 12:06 | #4

    In the case of Fay, he was actually treated worse than locals who vandalize to the same degree. Singapore rarely canes its own citizens except for rape or sexual assault cases.

    A Chinese citizen would have gotten far worse than this creep and would have been prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    I actually think the Chinese government needs to be seriously criticized for its lack of rule of law and this is just one example but there are far better examples. The most famous which of course are the people who get screwed out of their own homes and farms inside China but also, just before the 2008 Olympics when there were riots in Tibetan regions, the CCP police did nothing to protect Han and Hui businesses and people from literally pogroms by Tibetan mobs.

    the only reason they did that was to protect their Olympic image, to prevent them looking bad to western eyes. So their face saving behavior led to pogroms of Chinese citizens. I think their behavior despicable and ought never be forgotten nor forgiven by the Chinese population. The CCP should have used martial law to protect Chinese citizens from pogroms on their own soil even with deadly means.

  5. June 14th, 2012 at 12:14 | #5

    As to the people who beat the Brit, couldn’t Chinese law be applied? What says the law in a situation like that? I think a trial would help clarify that for the public and would be very instructional for society as a whole in terms how ordinary citizens ought to respond in situations like that.

    Anyways, good insight, William. But I gotta believe trial against the Brit is the right thing. If there is a separate trial for the Chinese who beat him in return, then, again, let law determine. It’s would only be consistent and the dilemma is not a big issue.

    The British media are going to make it out to be whatever they want. They are very capable liars.

  6. June 14th, 2012 at 12:19 | #6


    Good point about the handling of the 2008 Lhasa riot. It was indeed shocking to see the damage done for so long without authorities able to show up enmass.

  7. Zack
    June 14th, 2012 at 14:26 | #7

    when are the CCP going to wake up to the fact that it doesn’t matter how accomodating they are to Westerners, they’ll never be treated with respect unless there’s a reason for the West to respect China, and the source of that respect comes from power.
    the white man believes he can rape and kill with no recourse; best that this beast in human form be taught a lesson, trained if you will, to be worthy of the title of human being.

  8. tc
    June 14th, 2012 at 17:13 | #8

    For this sole reason of lacking “rule of law”, the CCP could be buried…. Sad.

  9. Jay Riter
    June 14th, 2012 at 22:09 | #9

    Do we know that he wasn’t treated in accordance with the law?

    What is the punishment for attempted rape?
    Could it be classified as assault? Why did they only classify it as indecency? What is the punishment for indecency?

    Did the young woman file charges?
    She certainly should have!

    Is the punishment for assault a fine or jail time?
    He certainly should have been punished in accordance with the law, if he wasn’t.

  10. June 15th, 2012 at 02:06 | #10

    I don’t think the issue here is rule of law. The issue is whether there different laws for Chinese and foreigners.

    I believe there are. Every since the unequal treaties, China has two set of laws. Even today, when China is finally gaining more and more independence, it still does, sadly, at least it appears…

    As to the question whether this is the right thing to do at this time, I hold my judgement.

    A lot of Westerners are in China because they are treated as a privileged class. It is part of their incentives for being in China. Now, this might not be fair to the Chinese, but if having these people in China at this time is in China’s best interest, then because the right of the nation trumps in my opinion, such status is justified…

    There will be cap on the privilege though. When the privilege attract too much of the wrong crowd, when the crowd that brings more harm than good to China, the privileges should be reconsidered …

    This is only one guy. There are lots of others – many good, and many no doubt not so good… It’s the big picture that matters … this specific is a good point to focus discussion, but should not be the scope of the discussion.

  11. William
    June 15th, 2012 at 03:52 | #11

    Hi Allen and yinyang. Just to clarify, I’m not saying what happened is right, I’m just trying to make sense of what’s going on. My best guess is that the authorities would end up on the defensive if they hauled everyone from the video up in court (for crimes major and minor). The 三非 foreigners campaign seems to have tailed off a bit, we’ll see what happens next.

    For some UK media coverage, you might like to take a look at these. First the conservative / populist Daily Mail, which has an extremely high circulation, also online. Make sure to read the type of comments the story’s getting.
    The main left/progressive Guardian doesn’t have much on this particular incident, it just mentions it in passing. Neither does the Independent.

  12. JJ
    June 15th, 2012 at 06:25 | #12


    That’s an interesting line of thought and does seem plausible.


    Why is it that the government’s “face saving” moves always seem to backfire on them? Like when that little girl was found to be lip-syncing during the Olympics. That incident was just… I don’t even know what to say.

    The government seriously needs to learn that appeasing the West won’t earn it respect. It just needs to work for the people and focus on that.

  13. June 15th, 2012 at 10:48 | #13

    Thanks for that link. Actually, I was encourage by the top rated comments underneath that article.

    Perhaps deportation in this case is the best option, but I think the government is obligated to provide the rational, especially the video made it so clear what this Brit was up to.

  14. no-name
    June 15th, 2012 at 22:11 | #14

    Brit(s) attempting molest/assault in PRC, Thailand, US Marines doing the same thing in Korea, Philippines and US military police also doing it in Abu Ghraib, etc are nothing new. US now wanting to rape Syria. Read http://www.scribd.com/doc/97189062 for more…

  15. William
    June 16th, 2012 at 00:38 | #15

    Hi all. Looks like I may have been wrong – it appears others (those involved in the fighting) have been charged too. A bit more detail is given about the UK citizen as well. See these two blog links:


    The UK citizen may or may not face further legal trouble on arrival back in the UK, including being placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register:

  16. Hong Konger
    June 16th, 2012 at 10:07 | #16

    This guy should have been tried and, if found guilty, charged and sentenced like anyone else.
    Same with the people who beat him. Same with anyone within China, regardless of their skin color or nationality.
    It’s hard to say whether this was a political move, or just because rule of law in China often doesn’t work well.
    Many times, people are not charged for crimes but punished in other ways — losing their jobs, being deported, house arrest etc. There’s a real grey area.

    If it was a political move — I have to say that the CCTV guy who made that unwise diatribe against foreigners didn’t help very much. It was bound to make embarrassing headlines internationally. For a media guy, he wasn’t very media savvy. I wonder, if all that never happened, if this Briton would have gone through Chinese legal channels the normal way.

    One thing that bothers me about this whole case. The focus has been on the fact that the attacker was foreign.
    The focus as not been on the main point: violence against women.
    It’s rampant in China and usually unpunished.
    I wish I’d seen more media coverage about whether the woman is OK, whether she’s been treated at a hospital and given counselling, what resources there are for women who are assaulted in China, and whether the police will clean up an area that is seeing more and more attacks on young ladies.

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