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China's Lynch-Mob Justice? Even Baby-Killers Deserve Their Day In Court

Zhou Xijun's case has sparked public outrage in China
Zhou Xijun's case has sparked public outrage in China
Yang Tao

-OpEd-

BEIJING - A few days ago in the northeastern city of Changchun, a man left his baby in his SUV while he went inside a convenience store. He returned to find his car, which he had left unlocked and running, stolen, along with the baby.

After 48 hours of public mobilization and searches, Zhou Xijun, 48, surrendered to police. He admitted that he had strangled the baby after hearing him crying in the back of the SUV. He then buried the baby's body in the snow by the roadside.

When news of the terrible crime became public, there was an enormous outcry on the Internet. Many netizens, including celebrities who are known for usually being quite moderate, were furious.

"He is not a human, he is a monster! We do not recognize that he turned himself in to the police!" wrote one celebrity.

A TV commentator said: "We believe that justice will punish this criminal severely. If he is ultimately sentenced to death I hope his execution will be by firing squad. Lethal injection is too good for him."

"Zhou Xijun should be lynched," added another celebrity.

I understand fully the rage and emotion of China's citizens. And even though Zhou has given himself up to the police, he can still receive the death penalty for homicide.

However, I believe in dealing with the case in accordance with the law. Zhou Xinjun's legal rights should be protected, and it should be verified whether he really turned himself in to the police. Even if he is sentenced to capital punishment and is executed immediately, no one should be using words such as "lynching," which only serve to incite public hatred.

We aspire to a society governed by the rule of law. It is important for our officials to withstand the pressure and emotion of public opinion and deal justly with this criminal, however evil he may be.

The purpose of the law is to regulate people's social behavior and make society progress towards civilization. If we allow overflowing hatred to guide us then society will become submerged in this emotion. This runs exactly counter to the nature of the law. If a person's evil incites an entire society's evil, then justice will not prevail, and our society can only be harmed by more evil.

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