China executes far more people than the rest of the world combined, but numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years. The Economist estimates that the numbers have fallen from an estimated 30,000 annually in the 1980s to about 3,000 today. The number of executions in the 1980s was itself very low compared with 30 years before when a large number of suspected revolutionaries were executed.
Reformers worked quietly within the system to bring about the change and panels now review every death case.
Death Row Interviews (BBC Documentary - 2013)
Every Saturday night in China,
millions gather around their televisions to watch Interviews Before Execution,
an extraordinary talk show which interviews prisoners on death row.
In the weeks, days or even minutes before they are executed, presenter Ding Yu goes into prisons and talks to those condemned to die. Combining clips from the TV show, never-before-seen footage of China's death row and interviews with a local judge who openly questions the future of the death penalty in China, This World reveals a part of China that is generally hidden from view.
CNN reported last April that China, the United States and three Middle Eastern nations carried out the most executions in 2012, rights group Amnesty International said, but a global trend toward ending the death penalty persisted.
Daniel Goldhagen, an American author and former professor of political science and social studies at Harvard University, who has written two books about the Holocaust, 'Hitler's Willing Executioners' (1996; review) and 'A Moral Reckoning' (2002). He is also the author of 'Worse Than War' (2009), which examines the phenomenon of genocide, and he wrote in the latter:
From 1949 to 1953, when the Chinese communists were consolidating power and laying the groundwork for their vast country's social and economic transformation to communism, the regime killed on the order of ten million people, mainly in their camps.
Worse Than War (PBS documentary)