Shaikh's execution unlikely to damage Sino-UK ties

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London/Beijing, Dec. 29 (ANI): Britisher Akmal Shaikh's execution in China on Wednesday for drug smuggling is unlikely to damage Sino-UK ties in the long term.

Shaikh's execution, despite repeated pleas for clemency by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to President Hu Jintao, though will do nothing to improve the mood between the two countries, reports The Telegraph.

A British Embassy spokesman in Beijing described Shaikh's death sentence as a "significant issue".

It is more likely that Beijing saw the case as a question of law. China has a zero-tolerance policy towards anyone, whether Chinese or foreign, caught smuggling drugs.

While Shaikh's family and the British government believed that his mental health problems were grounds for mercy to be shown to him, China pointed to the nine pounds of heroin he was arrested with. Under Chinese criminal law, that's 80 times the amount someone can be put to death for.

Given that evidence, it was always unlikely that Hu Jintao would break with precedent and commute Shaikh's sentence, even if his execution is unlikely to deter future drug smugglers.

Nor does Beijing agree with the British government's opposition to the death penalty.

On the contrary, there is overwhelming support among the Chinese people for its use.

It's one of the reasons why China executes more people than any other country in the world -- 1718 in 2008 according to Amnesty International. (ANI)

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