The Intermediate People's Court of Kunming in Southwest China's Yunnan Province Tuesday sentenced Naw Kham, a drug lord from Myanmar, and three of his subordinates to death over the murder of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year. Two others were also sentenced, one received a death penalty with a reprieve and the other a prison term.
This was the first case in which China extradited foreign criminals, then Chinese courts gave them a death sentence, which is of great significance.
The feeling that the lives of Chinese people are worth less than others has been shared by many Chinese in modern times. Chinese people have been bullied around the world, and are often the targets of malicious criminals. In an era when China's national strength was weak, the government could not take a tough stance toward foreign countries over such issues, while foreign governments turned a deaf ear to them.
China's human rights have progressed in recent years. The protection of human rights has become a focus of the public.
Assaults on Chinese citizens overseas also make waves in China. The murder on the Mekong River shocked the whole nation, and the demand to punish these criminals could be heard all over China.
The criminals were finally arrested in the Golden Triangle and extradited to China according to international laws. A few years ago this would have been unlikely.
China used many political and diplomatic resources after the Mekong River murder. The results will encourage Chinese society and warn those who may want to commit crime against Chinese people. If they act in defiance of the law, they will end up with the same fate as Naw Kham.
Punishing perpetrators is an important part of protecting Chinese interests. If the punishment requires overseas action, it will need the strong support provided by China's national power. This is a tacit rule of international relationships.
However, it takes more than just national power. In the complicated Golden Triangle district, mature mechanisms to crack down on crime in the area are needed. Friendly relationships between China and the countries in the region have to shift toward guaranteeing security navigation in the Mekong River.
The death sentence of Naw Kham will cause a stir among the international community. It will send a firm message that the Chinese government protects Chinese overseas. It marks a step forward in China's national security. The sentence is a comfort to the dead, and has significance in terms of the relationship between the nation and its people.