MISLEADING: China executed '26 corrupt government officials'

Claim: China sentenced to death 26 "corrupt government officials." 

Facebook page RJNM Manila on Monday, May 27, posted this claim along with a photo of Chinese police officers supposedly holding down the corrupt government officials moments before their execution. 

The caption of the photo read: "Twenty-six corrupt government officials sentenced to death in China! Uunlad ang Pilipinas 'pag ganito rin ang parusa sa mga corrupt!" (Twenty-six corrupt government officials sentenced to death in China! The Philippines will progress if we use the same punishment for corrupt officials!)

Rappler spotted the claim via Facebook Claim Check, Facebook's fact checking tool that collates potential hoaxes for fact checkers' review. The claim has, as of writing, garnered around 235 reactions, 27 comments, and 195 shares.

The same photo from RJNM Manila has long been circulating on Facebook, with various pages and accounts across the world having made it viral with similar claims. 

Unofficial: Ronald Bato Dela Rosa Solid Supporters and Pinoy Reality were the Philippine-based pages that shared the photo. Outside the Philippines, Facebook users from Kenya such as DJ Patchez The Mixboss and pages of European-based A La Verdad Mundial and Dalicom.eu shared the photo, adapting the claim to their countries' context. 


The facts: The photo is actually a 15-year-old photo from Agence-France Presse (AFP) of Chinese police officers escorting a group of "hardcore" convicts at a sentencing rally in Wenzhou, China on April 7, 2004.  

An execution indeed happened that day, as 11 convicts were killed after the photo was taken. 

AFP's full caption reads: 

"Chinese police show a group of hardcore convicts at a sentencing rally in the east Chinese city of Wenzhou, 07 April 2004, where 11 prisoners were later excuted for various crimes. Amnesty International has called for a moratorium on the death penalty in China, saying the country’s dysfunctional criminal justice system meant many innocent people were being executed, after a senior Chinese legislator suggested China executes at least 10,000 people a year, about 5 times more than the rest of the world combined."


The fifteen-year-old photo from AFP, as seen on their website, is captioned to depict the sentencing rally for hardcore convicts

No news organization reported on the supposed executions of 26 corrupt goverment officials in China. Further, Amnesty International, a London-based non-governmental organization specializing on human rights, did not report such executions in its compilation of significant events related to the death penalty worldwide in the year 2004

The widespread claim was debunked in 2018 by several media organizations outside the Philippines such as Snopes, News Mobile, Social Media Hoax Slayer, and The Print. 

According to Amnesty International, China remains the world’s top executioner in 2018. Most known executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Iraq. 

The Chinese government executes people for economic and political crimes. Public officials found guilty of corruption are also punished by death. (READ: Which countries impose death penalty for corruption?)

Meanwhile, the Facebook page RJNM Manila claims to be an account of a physical fitness center in Manila. However, it also posts about current political events aside from physical fitness.

A claim from the Facebook page Unofficial: Ronald Bato Dela Rosa Solid Supporters had previously been rated by Rappler as misleading. The page later apologized and corrected their claim based on our fact check. (READ: MISLEADING: Media did not report on construction of Isabela's landmark bridge– Addie Pobre/Rappler.com

Editor's note: The rating on Facebook for Unofficial: Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa Solid Supporters was lifted after they issued a correction on their post.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.