The international uproar over China’s execution of Akmal Shaikh demonstrates once again the truth of Stalin’s dictum, “One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.” It is unlikely that Mr. Shaikh was the victim of a high-handed act by local officials. It is more probable that his killing was deliberate, approved at the highest levels, and intended to send a message. Mr Shaikh was caught smuggling narcotics. I’m sure China’s rulers have not forgotten the Opium Wars. Perhaps they wanted to send the British a message that those days are over once and for all, and that, eventually, what goes around comes around, even if it takes a long time. As they demonstrated when they turned the guns of their tanks on their own people in Tienanmen Square, they don’t lack the level of cynicism required for such an act.