08/16/2013 10:46 am ET Updated Aug 16, 2013

Unverified Chinese Public Execution Video Raises Questions After Clip Is Shared Online


A video purportedly showing Chinese police executing a man in public has been viewed by millions on China's online network, without apparent government censorship.

The apparent killing is carried out in a field as a community watches from a hilltop. Police are shown escorting the placard-wearing prisoner to a small clearing. With the condemned man on his knees, an officer approaches him from behind and appears to shoot him.

The video is taken from a distance, easing the immediacy of the spectacle, but those interested in watching it below should think carefully before viewing.

According to, the person who posted the clip on microblogging site Sina on Monday wrote that the shooting took place in Guizhou province in November. However, the user did not provide additional details.

The discourse and the footage continued Thursday night without obvious government interference, which raises questions about the video's authenticity. (After all, China's state-run media recently published photos from a fetish-porn movie and reported it was a real execution by lethal injection.)

However, the Wall Street Journal confirmed that the villagers heard in the video were speaking a dialect used in the region. The outlet used the unverified footage as a jumping-off point into a story on the nation's capital punishment practices, which human rights advocates consider the world's most aggressive, according to the report.

The two most popular comments on Sina represent both sides of the argument, the Journal notes: One cried for readers to respect human rights and oppose the death penalty, while the other said criminals' victims probably suffer more than they do.

(WARNING: Some viewers may find the following video disturbing.)