“Smiling killer” Zhao Zhihong executed in China

The Chinese authorities have executed a serial killer. 47-year-old Zhao Zhihong, also known as the ‘smiling killer’, is held responsible for six murders and a series of rapes of women and young girls.

Zhao Zhihong strangled most victims with his bare hands, but would also have used a telephone cable once. The authorities arrested him in 2005. He subsequently confessed to a series of crimes, including the abuse and murder of a woman in the toilet of a textile factory in Hohhot in 1996.

Before that last murder, an 18 – year-old man had already been put to death. The Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that Zhao has also been executed. The court called his crimes “particularly heinous”.

Killing with a smile

The Zhao Zhihong was nicknamed the “smiling killer” because of the testimonies of victims who portrayed a man with a laughing expression when committing his crimes. Chinese journalists who met with Zhao spoke of an inexplicable attitude.

Zhao refused to meet his family before the execution.


In 2010, China tightened the requirements to issue a death sentence. In 2015, the number of death-related crimes was also reduced from 55 to 46. According to human rights organizations, the Asian giant carries out more executions every year than any other country. But their number is a state secret.

“Smiling killer” Zhao Zhihong executed in China
Zhao Zhihong, also known as the “smiling killer”

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