British Journal of Criminology (2013) 53(3) 500-519
This paper explores the influences of worldwide anti-death penalty campaigns in the local institutional environment in China and its implications for China's capital punishment reforms in recent years. It found a 'concentric pattern' of the dissemination of human rights values and anti-death penalty activisms may explain the varying attitudes towards human rights and international activism among different social groups across the Chinese society. Divergent interests of and perceptions held by national-level and lower-level legal elites are likely to be one of the causes for China to adopt an incremental reformist stance. Further, this study shows that the Chinese legal elites were poorly informed of the current status of public opinion on capital punishment. A populist-sentiment driven administration of capital punishment is closely tied to reliance on capital punishment.