Amnesty International report finds the nation to be top executioner

China defended the death penalty Thursday as a traditional deterrent, after a report said its annual executions had again far exceeded the rest of the world's combined.

Beijing judicially put to death thousands of people in 2013 compared to a total of 778 elsewhere, the campaign group Amnesty International said in its annual report. It did not give a specific figure for China as Beijing considers the statistic a state secret and does not release it. But foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei dismissed the study and highlighted policies to curb capital punishment.

"Whether or not a country retains the death penalty is mainly based on the traditional culture and specific national conditions.

Beijing was taking steps to "implement the policy of strictly controlling and prudently using death penalty", Hong said.AFP