Schellenberg trial shows Canada's arbitrary view of rule of law

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/14 23:56:45

Canadian drug smuggler Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death on Monday by the Intermediate People's Court of Dalian, Liaoning Province. This is the latest ruling after the Liaoning Provincial High People's Court sent back the case and the Intermediate People's Court of Dalian opened a public retrial. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused China of "arbitrarily" applying death penalty to Canadian on Monday evening, Beijing Time. 

Drug trafficking is a felony in China. Since the beginning of this century, many foreign citizens have been sentenced to death for smuggling drugs in China. Among them, at least six were Japanese. When Pakistani-British citizen Akmal Shaikh was sentenced to death in 2009, his case aroused wide attention from Western media. Then British prime minister Gordon Brown personally interceded for him, yet Shaikh was eventually executed. 

Schellenberg's trial happened after the arrest of Chinese tech giant Huawei's senior executive Meng Wanzhou. Some Canadian and Western media immediately linked the case with that of Meng's, arguing Beijing is putting pressure on Ottawa through the case. This unreasonable speculation is a rude contempt toward Chinese law. 

Before the court announced the verdict on Monday, many Western media outlets had speculated that Schellenberg could face the death sentence. They arrived at the conclusion after understanding China's Criminal Law and the previous rulings of drug smugglers. The amount of meth that Schellenberg had jointly smuggled was too large.

However, Trudeau's words suggested that Canada views the verdict from a value perspective, not a judicial one, and used Canadian law as reference. Canadian law doesn't have the death penalty, while China's Criminal Law clearly stipulates that drug smugglers could face the death sentence. Public opinion in Canada has claimed recently that China is "politicizing" Schellenberg's case, but what Canada is doing is actually politicizing law.

Western centrism has been very obvious in recent disputes between China and Canada. Whatever Canada does, it is the rule of law, but whatever China does is not. Canadian elites are feeling so righteous with this double standard, and it is time for them to wake up from such cultural and value narcissism. 

Schellenberg's case has received much attention from the West. Some people may misread the case, but an important message will be delivered to Canada and the West: drug smuggling faces higher risks in China than in the West because the death sentence awaits the risk-taker here. The trial will also send the message that China won't yield to outside pressure in implementing its law.

The trial of Schellenberg shows China practicing its judicial sovereignty. Western media should cover this case responsibly to avoid misleading potential offenders of Chinese law. Schellenberg's trial is not a "political verdict." Otherwise, if there were no special political reason, would it be okay to smuggle drugs in China? Of course not.

Canada seems to be bewitched recently and is keen to draw the US and other Western countries over to its side to speak for it, as if that could make China yield. This is an underestimation of Chinese law and China's national will. When it comes to China's own laws and national interests, the country's perseverance is unbreakable.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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