Shaikh was executed by lethal injection at 10.30am local time on Tuesday, 29th December 2009 (2:30am GMT) at the Xishan Detention Centre in Urumqi, in the far west of China. Government ministers repeatedly called on China to show clemency because Shaikh was believed to suffer from severe bipolar disorder.
In Lincoln yesterday I was surprised that the matter came up in conversation, and more surprised at the disconnect between the position of the British Government and the public. All, universally supported China's right to try, convict and punish offenders in their own way, without interference. A source who attended a prayer session at the cathedral in the city has reported that two Roman Catholic nuns also thought what China has done was right - obviously in spite of the Church's teaching on the sanctity of life.
On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry expressed China’s anger at the British Government’s response to the death sentence. spokeswoman Jiang Yu said:
"Nobody has the right to speak ill of China’s judicial sovereignty.Since Shaikh was arrested at Urumqi airport with four kilos of heroin in September 2007, China denied repeated requests for him to be examined by a doctor. His family insist he was tricked into carrying the drugs by a criminal gang.
"We express strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition over the groundless British accusations. We hope that the British side can view this matter rationally and not create new obstacles in bilateral relations."
China has a zero tolerance policy towards drug smugglers, whether Chinese or foreign. It is also extremely sensitive towards any attempts to interfere in what it regards as its internal affairs.