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STEVE CHOITAKIS: Staying in China now — that country today said it’s considering dropping capital punishment for economic crimes. China executes more people than any other country in the world. But a draft law released today would remove 13 white-collar crimes from that list. Michael Bristow is the BBC’s correspondent in China, and he’s with us live from Beijing. Hello, Michael.
MICHAEL BRISTOW: Hello there.
CHIOTAKIS: All right, so what sort of economic crimes are currently punishable by death. What are we talking about?
BRISTOW: Well, there’s a whole range of crimes. We’ve got issuing fake VAT invoices, falsely claiming export tax rebates, smuggling gold and silver out of the country, and other financial crimes. Thirteen, in total, will be struck down from the statute books, saying that they carry death sentences if indeed this proposal is put through the Chinese parliament.
CHIOTAKIS: And what caused the country, Michael, to reconsider its position? Why is it doing this?
BRISTOW: We’ll it’s party because of international pressure. The support for the death penalty here in China is very widespread. The government thinks it’s a good way of cracking down on corruption. People think it’s a good way of cracking down on corruption and other criminal offenses as well. But many human rights groups say China simply executes too many people. I think that’s the reason why China’s looking to cut the number of crimes down to 55 that carry the death penalty.
CHIOTAKIS: And very quickly, Michael, a time frame here?
BRISTOW: We don’t know yet. It’s going to take some months, maybe years before this is put through. The Chinese government isn’t yet saying how long it’s going to take.
CHIOTAKIS: The BBC’s Michael Bristow reporting from Beijing. Michael, thanks.
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