China has some of the most severe punishments of the death penalty that encompass a variety of crimes. Some of the most serious are those that are considered to be problems for state security and these can run the gamut from the political to security breaches
According to the Death Penalty Database, “The number [of those that have been executed] is a state secret. It is difficult to estimate because many prisoners do not linger on death row – they are either executed immediately, or given a suspended two-year sentence after which they are either executed or have their sentence commuted. According to Amnesty International, China imposed 7003 death sentences in 2008, although this may be a significant underestimate. A 2009 estimate had China passing out about 140 sentences per week. With an annual execution rate in the thousands, there must be thousands of death sentences handed down every year.”
While it is well-known that China may have internal departments that are involved in what we might consider cybercrime, they continue to deny the fact, even though there has been global proof that it exists. It is unsure how they rate data breaches that may occur within their own companies or government structure and whether they list it under the heading of ‘espionage’ or ‘terrorism’. If an individual or group is found to have allowed a security breach of any sort, it is considered qualifications to be punished by the death penalty.
Death Penalty Database shows the Chinese definition of espionage as: “A person who joins an espionage organisation, accepts a mission from an espionage organisation, or directs an enemy to a bombing or shelling target is punishable by death, “if the circumstances are especially serious” or the crime causes serious harm to the State and the people. Stealing, spying into, buying, or illegally supplying State secrets for an organisation or individual outside China is death-eligible, “if the circumstances are especially serious” or the crime causes serious harm to the State and the people. A person who steals, spies into, buys, or illegally supplies military secrets to agencies, organisations or individuals outside of China is subject to the death penalty.”
The lack of transparency from the Chinese government doesn’t allow the outside world to know the true number of executions that are committed each year. Death Penalty Database has published the following descriptions for crimes that are considered for the death penalty: “The People’s Supreme Court considers the five main categories of death penalty-eligible crimes to be murder, robbery, abduction, drug trafficking and intentional injury. Studies indicate that around 80 percent of unsuspended death sentences may be for crimes involving the death of a victim.”