“Moving the Debate forward: China's Use of the Death Penalty” was a cooperative project between the Great Britain China Centre (London), Beijing Normal University, Wuhan University, the University of Oxford (Centre for Criminology), the Irish Centre for Human Rights (Galway), the Death Penalty Project (London) and the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law (Freiburg). The project ran for three years and was financed by the European Commission.

The prin­cip­al goal of the pro­ject was to ana­lyze the links between pub­lic opin­ion, crim­in­al policy, le­gis­la­tion and leg­al prac­tice, and to ini­ti­ate at­ti­tu­din­al changes amongst polit­ic­al and leg­al act­ors and the pub­lic at large. An­oth­er ob­ject­ive was to guide Chinese crim­in­al law re­form, par­tic­u­larly with re­gard to a pos­sible re­duc­tion in the num­ber of cap­it­al of­fences (against the back­drop of China sign­ing the In­ter­na­tion­al Cov­en­ant on Civil and Polit­ic­al Rights in 1998).

The main com­pon­ents of the pro­ject in­cluded:

  • the sur­vey­ing of pop­u­la­tion and oc­cu­pa­tion­al groups with re­gards to the death pen­alty,
  • pub­lic lec­tures and de­bates on the death pen­alty at six Chinese uni­versit­ies,
  • work­shops that in­cluded mem­bers of the le­gis­lature and the ju­di­ciary,
  • the es­tab­lish­ment of a Chinese web­site that presen­ted, in an ac­cess­ible fash­ion, res­ults from the aca­dem­ic re­search on the death pen­alty,
  • em­pir­ic­al in­vest­ig­a­tions of death pen­alty cases, in­clud­ing a com­par­is­on between mis­car­riages of justice and “def­in­ite” death pen­alty con­vic­tions,
  • a sem­in­ar that con­sisted of high-rank­ing polit­ic­al and ju­di­cial of­fi­cials en­titled the "In­ter­na­tion­al Cov­en­ant on Civil and Polit­ic­al Rights and the Death Pen­alty,”
  • the com­pil­a­tion of sug­ges­ted death pen­alty re­forms which were sub­mit­ted to the Na­tion­al People’s Con­gress,
  • the cre­ation of a per­man­ent Death Pen­alty Re­search In­sti­tute at the Beijing Nor­mal Uni­versity.

The sur­veys were con­duc­ted by the Max Planck In­sti­tute for For­eign and In­ter­na­tion­al Crim­in­al Law, in co­oper­a­tion with the Uni­versity of Wuhan’s Fac­ulty of Law. They fo­cused on opin­ions about the death pen­alty in the People's Re­pub­lic of China and any pos­sible re­per­cus­sions these opin­ions might have on its even­tu­al ab­ol­i­tion (and crim­in­al policy more gen­er­ally). Par­al­lel to the pop­u­la­tion sur­vey in the People's Re­pub­lic of China, Chinese and Amer­ic­an stu­dents were in­ter­viewed at Ger­man uni­versit­ies.

The pro­ject was fin­anced by the European Com­mis­sion.