Replicas cause no harm and people should be sentenced according to intent. Apparently China must be a very difficult place to live if a harmless replica gun is used as evidence in sentencing someone. However, if this man would be trying to cause harm with it that is another case.
People should not be sentenced according to intent rather than actual purchase or possession of guns because actually purchasing a gun is much more dangerous than someone who wants to purchase a gun but has not yet done so. Additionally, it is much harder to prove intent because it is not evident or clear. Sentencing according to intent would be a waste of the criminal justice system's time because there are people who actually have guns who could be facing punishment rather than punishing people who have not yet committed a crime.
No, the intent to commit a crime is not enough to sentence a person for the crime. While intent does factor in when a crime is actually committed, intent alone does not justify similar sentencing guidelines. The use of intent creates a murky area that moves away from bright- line rulings in courts cases, therefore preventing clear precedents to be set. Proving intent would also cause undue burden on the prosecution.
China has many harsh laws with serious penalties, and many of them should be repealed. That aside, the man's intent may or may not have been to purchase a gun, but he did not and he cannot commit a crime or hurt someone with a fake gun, so his sentence should not be so harsh.