The laws in China are harsh and the death penalty was issued in this case and carried out. Though sometimes commuted for financial crimes they are rarely commuted for drug smuggling, rape and murder.
After living 10 years in China I would be very wary about breaking their laws. The legal system is quite at odds with what we are used to in the west. Legal representatives have a hard time gaining access to clients and getting sight of evidence. Even in civil cases I have seen cases in the press where the lawyers are threatened with breaching state secrets when presenting evidence at trials.
As of now we have little idea of what was stated in court in this case. The only reports were from state controlled media which would be skewed to say what they want them to say.
The laws are harsh but in a country of 1.5 billion people the government in Beijing is of the view that in order to rule they have to issue harsh punishments and they do.
While living in Shanghai I met the son of a convicted smuggler who was over visiting his father in Qing Pu prison just outside Shanghai. His crime was to be caught with cannabis and he received a 15 year sentence with no chance of remission or repatriation. That is the Chinese way.
When you next visit Singapore, Thailand or Malaysia remember they too carry out capital punishments in the case of drugs smuggling.
Gordon Brown made his comments, but it is at odds that he commented on this mans mental state and asked for clemency but failed to comment or do anything in the case of John McKinnon the UFO obsessed man who is to be handed over to the US despite there being a clear case of mental illness. Perhaps he did not want to upset BO.