Photos: The final 12 hours of Chinese women on death row

November 29, 2011Jing Gao39 Comments, , , , , , , , ,


Right before June 26, 2003, which is the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, lives of four female drug dealers incarcerated in a detention center in Wuhai were coming to an end. On the night of June 24, 2003, a photographer, with permission and consent from the relevant department and news subjects, walked into the No.1 Detention Center of Wuhai and documented their last night spent there.

A police officer brought in the outfit for the condemned to wear before the execution as per her request. Dai Donggui, a drug dealer sentenced to death, took over the top, and is about to try it on.

Dai Donggui folded her new outfit and put it away on her bed. The new outfit was bought by the police officer as per her request and was meant to be worn for her execution.

At 9:30 p.m., Dai Donggui was about to have some green bean soup. The McDonald’s taro pie handed out by the detention center to each death row inmate was left on the stool still untouched.

A police officer fed a lyncher lychee to Dai Donggui, who were executed the next day.

At 10:15 p.m., an ordinary inmate helped note down the final words of Li Juhua, another drug deal on death row.

At 10:07 p.m., two ordinary inmates played poker game with He Xiuling and Ma Qingxiu, two drug dealers condemned to death, with two officers watching.

He Xiuling, a drug dealer to be executed at Wuhan’s No.1 Detention Center. During the entire evening, He Xiuling displayed a mixture of excitement and uneasiness on her face.

He Xiuling stayed with some ordinary inmates and officers the night before the execution. Every now and then, she exuded childlike innocence and breeziness, which is in line with her young age.

He Xiuling stayed with fellow inmates and officers.

He Xiuling tried on her new shoes and got ready for her path to the netherworld.

An ordinary inmate fed dumplings to He Xiuling for her to snack on. He Xiuling, 25, hailed from Xiantao, Hubei province. She was sentenced to death for smuggling 7,000 grams of addictive drugs.

He Xiuling sang songs. Her voice sounded like pleadings with the Heaven for a second chance so that she could undo everything.

Dead silence reigned the house of detention. At 5:40 a.m., an ordinary inmate brought in hot water for washing faces to the interrogation room, where the death row inmates temporarily stayed before execution.

At 6 a.m., an ordinary inmate and an officer were applying nail polish to Li Juhua’s toes.

At 6:07 a.m. on June 25, 2003, Ma Qingxiu (third from right) requested that her clothes be bequeathed to an ordinary inmate who were in want of clothes.

At 6:11 a.m., He Xiuling was trying her new outfit. Her execution drew near. She disliked the white top, as it made her look fat. The head of the detention center then got a black top for her.

At 6:17 a.m., He Xiuling and Ma Qingxiu were having their last breakfast. Ma Qingxiu had some pork rice noodles. He Xiuling finished the McDonald’s taro pie she left over from the previous night.

At 6:29 a.m., He Xiuling wept and wiped her nose.

At 6:30 a.m., He Xiuling rubbed some gel onto her hair. The head of the detention center came specially to bring her hair gel, which made He Xiuling smile.

He Xiuling was overwhelmed with emotions as her execution drew near.

The last death row inmate Ma Qingxiu walked out of the room. Ma, 49, from Baokang county of Hubei province, was sentenced to death for trafficking 2,300 grams of drugs on four occasions.

At 7:00 a.m., police officers saw off the four women death row inmates leaving for the execution ground.

Ma Qingxiu was escorted by two officers to the execution ground.

Police officers unlocked the chains on their feet and put on new hand cuffs.

At 9:45 a.m. on the site for public trial, He Xiuling cried again. Among the two dozens of inmates to be executed that day, she was the only one that shed tears. She was also the youngest.

Death row inmates were escorted off the trial site to the execution ground.

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39 comments to “Photos: The final 12 hours of Chinese women on death row”

  1. Fk the law | November 29, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    death penalty on nonviolent crime is inhuman !!!!!

    • A Critic | November 29, 2011 | Permalink Reply

      Drug dealing isn’t even a crime – it’s business.

      Communists and statists of all varieties are barbarians. Those who hurt and kill others for the purposes of power are the real criminals.

      • Another critic | December 2, 2011 | Permalink Reply

        Actually, drug dealing is a crime. It is against the law and therefore it is illegal. Also, stating that communists are barbarians is judging everyone based on a few people’s actions.You say that people who hurt others are the real criminals. Are you aware of the side effects that addicts go through? Although you may say its their own choice, the drug dealers are ultimately supply and profiting off of this addicting. Now on the basis of whether or not this is right, would you rather have your tax money be spent on their life in jail? Because that’s whats it is. Also if you don’t do something to deter drug dealing, you will have the crisis that is currently going in which 1.6 million people are in prison. Im not saying the death penalty is the definite answer, but don’t complain about taxes and then support drug dealing.

        • seriously? | December 2, 2011 | Permalink Reply

          Not debating what’s right or wrong, just providing true facts. To this day studies have proven that the death penalty does not deter crime. While I don’t know for China, in the US it is actually more expensive to execute someone than jail them for life in general (saying that only because the cost to be at places like guantanamo bay is just incomprehensible). The latter is true because of the several trials and processes that take place before someone is eventually executed.

        • Truth | December 13, 2011 | Permalink Reply

          So why are the people who create and sell tobacco products in China not punished at all? Why are the tobacco companies, who sell an extremely addicting drug that causes more deaths and health problems than any other drug, allowed to do do while those who distribute other drugs are shot in the back of the head?

          And I’m not saying that just because one is legal that the other should be. But the Chinese can’t justify killing drug dealers on the basis that they hurt society, and at the same time allow other drug dealers to do the exact same thing.

          Also, who was complaining about taxes?

    • Raven | January 2, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      I agree that YES drug traffic and dealers should be jailed, but DEATH!!! to a child????, She and the others were just children, “The PUNISHMENT should fit the crime, if you kill someone., stand trial..if found guilty death sentence, but for Drugs??…this is a clear abuse of power, China’s corrupt politicians do a thousand times the damage drug traffickers do, they should be condemned to death for what they’ve been doing for years, the result is WHY these people are so poor and risk dealing drugs to feed themselves. Start executing dirty politicians and police!!Pass that law and you’ll see a lot better government.

    • Nhi mai | March 16, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      life is life, any life have emmbeded god will, we can not create a life, so we can not destruct a life. Only god have power to take the life, not us.

      Any soul in this universal, have to live in harmony peace, that the supreme law of this universal, all kind of master who ever known came to the earth, just tell one thing, telling that truth.

      if we harm any kind of life, even the very small mosquitoes life, absolutely, one day we have to standing before god to answer for that kind of act and know the truth.

      Let, remember that: life is abstracted life , death is abstracted death…

      I pray for all kind of souls.

      Brothers, sisters, mosquitoes…, we are the whole of this universal, parts of god.

      we are the children of god, so we are god, just because we don’t know that.

      All we living in this violent world for along time, so many billions years, we lost ourself.

      all we come from one place, that place call kingdom of god, all we come to this earth with only one noble mission, that is to learn more to elevated our soul and help this earth to be come more beautiful, more heavenly…

      but for so long, for so many billions years, we already lost ourself, forgot our noble mission, for got our home from the kingdom of god…

      We should official end this kind of violent world for along time ago, this word already become a mess.

      All adult, children, animals, should live in harmony on this earth, let love each other, walking in hand, below the sky. let spread out all our love, so this earth will become the heavenly, become the rainbow, so the heaven will come to this earth earlier.Let save this planet, this beautiful place is our home. Let save this place for ourself, for the sake of our children.

      From the mosquitoes!

  2. [...] "CRITEO-300×250", 300, 250); 1 meneos Las últimas 12 horas de cuatro chinas en el corredor de la muerte [ENG]…  por Teneate hace [...]

  3. steven | November 30, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    ” amongst the two dozens ” , of my god so many executions

  4. Jay K. | November 30, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    I have no problem with the death penalty, quite frankly China has balls to use it on those who would disrupt society via murder, drug trafficking to an amount, etc. Now china just needs to execute the thousands more corrupt gov officials.

    By the way anyone know what method of execution these women had?

    Personally my contry (U.S.) should do this more often.

    • Truth | December 13, 2011 | Permalink Reply

      What about the tobacco companies? They sell drugs. Their drugs are extremely addictive and cause more health problems and death than any other. If you support China slaughtering people who “disrupt society through drug trafficking”, you also support the killing of anyone involved in the manufacturing and selling of tobacco products. If you don’t agree you’re either being inconsistent in your justification, or you just like to see people killed for no reason.

  5. Larry | November 30, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Good for China. The crying women did not hear the cries of the addicted they helped find narcotics. I feel zero sympathy for these human dregs. I hope China and the other nations of the world would kill millions of criminals. Murderers, rapists and the such are given little time in prison then released back on the streets. These animals go back and do the same crimes again. If any one reading this has sympathy then you should imagine a loved one murdered by these sick people. I have.

    • A Critic | December 1, 2011 | Permalink Reply

      “The crying women did not hear the cries of the addicted they helped find narcotics.”

      Users and addicts make their own choices.

      You can execute every drug dealer and the blood will never stop flowing. You can prohibit drugs but it is as foolish as prohibiting the sun from rising.

    • EdmundUK | October 24, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      When comments such as yours and “Jay K” are left on these sites, it only adds creedance to the notion that the US is full of right-wing reactionaries with black-and-white views of the world; the women presented in this piece did commit crimes, but they are not “rapists” and “murderers,” as you’d indicated. Drug addiction is defined by nearly every competent medical authority on earth, including in the PRC, as being a medical condition (one that can be successfully treated). The war on drugs” mentality has been abandoned in favour of a harm-reduction, medically-based programme in most European countries; these policies are documented to alleviate drug problems.

      Shooting a young women in the back of the head because of a social crime (not a violent act, mind you) will not stop or even discourge drug use and trafficking. There is too much money to be made on the distribution side, and most addicts are physically and mentally sick enough that they BIOLOGICALLY are compelled to self-destructive acts.

      You might try to remember that these women were someone’s daughter, mother, sister, etc. No one is immune from becoming addicted to drugs; and, ultimately, publishing “kill ‘em all” comments on the web only reinforces stereotypes about Americans being violent, solipistic, self-centred and ignorant.

    • Yallah | December 3, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      I agree. Those who disagree must be drug dealers themselves. (or maybe drug addicts whom I should feel sorry for)

  6. FW | December 1, 2011 | Permalink Reply


  7. Copyedit | December 1, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    The guard fed her LYCHEES not “lynchers” as I’m fairly sure that would have been a much more disturbing photo.

    • Jing Gao | December 1, 2011 | Permalink Reply

      Hi, thank you for your comment. I did type Lychee. It must be the auto spell check…Thanks for letting me know this typo anyway! :D

  8. .__. | December 1, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    See… It pains me to know some people don’t feel sympathy for these inmates. I understand they may have done terrible things, but getting rid of one of them won’t heal those they’ve hurt. Death is such an uncertain thing.

  9. [...] late last week on the Web site of Phoenix Television, a private broadcaster based in Hong Kong, and translated by Ministry of Tofu, a blog that is often critical of the Chinese [...]

  10. [...] late last week on the Web site of Phoenix Television, a private broadcaster based in Hong Kong, and translated by Ministry of Tofu, a blog that is often critical of the Chinese [...]

  11. ZHANG | December 3, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Two dozen executions in a single day? That just shows how easily lives can be taken away in China. The practice of death sentence is just a tip of the iceberg of what is wrong with China today. Maybe when we begin to show a bit more respect to life and treat each individual seriously, can we finally reduce the number of tragedies in this country (e.g. overloaded school bus, police beating street vendors, high speed train crash, etc)

    • Truth | December 13, 2011 | Permalink Reply

      “Maybe when we begin to show a bit more respect to life and treat each individual seriously, can we finally reduce the number of tragedies in this country”

      It gives me hope that there are people in this country who think like you do. Respect for life is exactly what this country (and any country) really needs. No matter if these women were guilty or not, no compassionate human being can truly say that they deserved to be taken outside and shot in the back of the head. What does that accomplish but more suffering?

  12. Chris | December 4, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Disturbing. Two dozen executions in just one day. Terrible.

  13. robdigg | December 4, 2011 | Permalink Reply


  14. robdigg | December 4, 2011 | Permalink Reply


  15. Matthew A. Sawtell | December 20, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Beyond the usual pros and cons of death penalty – I look at these photos and I am reminded of Stephen King’s book and movie, the Green Mile. In it Tom Hanks explains the need to keep the prisoners calm – given that since they have nothing to lose, they could take out a guard or two before sentence can be completed.

  16. sankar | December 25, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    This is brutal. They should have given max to max 10-14 years jail sentence. I am not able to control my emotion after seeing these photos. In our country(India), even terrorist can live longer. These four females
    have done not more sin than the terrorist Kasab.

  17. [...] depicting the final 12 hours of Chinese women on death row. They were convicted of drug related offenses and are mostly in their [...]

  18. Ninclud | January 11, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    The death penalty should be abolished because it is a barbaric form of punishment, only dictatorships and so-called democraties like the USA have it..

    It’s Europe it’s not more a debate for decades now…

    In the Eu, we have much lower crime rates even if death penalty was abolished years ago…

  19. evil_all_around | January 23, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    I wonder how many wealthy individuals in the west subsequently put in bids for the organs of the deceased? That’s morbid, I know, but there would be no organ trafficking if people were not prepared to buy the organs of the wrongfully-executed.

  20. Sami | March 19, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    China sucks! I am never in my life going to travel to China

  21. John | August 10, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    There may be an argument to use the death penalty for certain crimes, but drug dealing? Only if the measure of effects of the drug dealing matches the effects of the crimes arguably deserving the death penalty. i.e killing innocent people. If tomorrow the government declares the sale of tobacco illegal, do we condemn to death retrospectively, the shop keeper who supplied this very dangerous to the many millions of people killed by it.

    Given China’s proven abuse of official power and bullying, to even think these people received a ‘fair’ trial is an obcenity in itsel.

  22. the LauGHinGHanGMan | August 27, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    well aren’t THESE an especially juicily poignant set of pictures…thank YOU…ALL us execution fetishists DEARLY love illustrations like these….oh my my my

  23. Robert | September 1, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    There is so much about China that I love and admire — it’s arts, culture and amazing history are breathtaking, and surely one could spend many lifetimes studying each of those subjects and still have so much more to learn. However, when it comes to China’s regard of human life and its extreme use of the death penalty, something is clearly lost in the translation of understanding between Sino culture and my own. There is simply a chasm or void between the way I perceive the intensly loving bonds within chinese families (a stereotype perhaps, but nevertheless a hallmark of traditional Chinese families) and the apparent wide support for the death penalty in a society in which law and order seem to take precadence over the sentient life of an individual. Where is the compassion and belief that these people can be reformed? Personally, I suspect one reason for these draconian measures stems from the fact that the people who embezzle money or smuggle / use drugs drugs are a manifestation of some level of dissatisfaction with their society. Sure their unhappiness or greed is not a justification to commit crime, but it’s their. In a socialist state, where the material needs of the people are met, and less inequalities exist, such anamolies represent a criticism and indictment of the system, declaring, “No, all is not well…at least for me.” The State forbids such declarations and silences those minds by destroying them forever. How tragic.

  24. Robert | September 1, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    My apologies for a couple of grammatical typos. I really should’ve edited before submitting. Although most of the post is clear, the sentence towards the end should read: “Sure, their unhappiness or greed is not a justification to commit crime, but it’s there.” Minor mistake but it changes the context.

  25. Elizabeth Ann Davis | September 2, 2012 | Permalink Reply


  26. Wilheim | December 1, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Keep buying products from China, that contribute to death, pollution,etc. The ironic part, it is all the Obamacrates in the States that support these causes. A bunch of idots, they keep buying products from China.

  27. anonymous | December 12, 2015 | Permalink Reply

    Drugs are considered illegal due to the government are not able to collect taxes that is the bottom line. it is similar to prostitution

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