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Outcry as China's sixth richest woman gets death sentence

A court has upheld the death sentence imposed on a young female tycoon for financial irregularities, which has led to widespread calls for reforms.

  • Tania Branigan
  • China
  • March 22, 2012
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When she was seven, Wu Ying set her heart on a pair of long-haired rabbits. She tended them devotedly, then trimmed and sold their fur. She was in business.

China's capitalist adventure wasn't much older than she was. The two flourished together. In 2006, by the time Wu was 25, she was said to be the sixth richest woman in the country.

Now 31, Wu's fortunes have changed dramatically. She is on death row, facing execution for fraud and raising money outside the banking system.

Toppled tycoons are often regarded with schadenfreude, but Wu is seen by many in China as akin to a martyr. Intellectuals and powerful business people – even staff and creditors who lost jobs and money when her empire crashed – say her offence was commonplace.

Her case has become emblematic of the difficulties of being an entrepreneur under China's system of state capitalism, and of the murky world in which much private enterprise is conducted, with businesses forced to take risks to get ahead.

Upholding her sentence this year, a court in eastern Zhejiang province said she had "brought huge losses to the nation and people with her severe crimes, and should therefore be severely punished". The supreme people's court is currently reviewing her sentence.

Others thought her prosecution and sentence caused the real damage. "Wu's death penalty is a setback for the cause of reform in China," the influential economist Zhang Weiying said. "Judging from this case, how far are we from the market economy? At least 300 years."

Full Story: Loans that led to China's death row: tycoon's case brings cries for reforms

Source: The Guardian
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