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China: A Death Sentence to Hide Government Corruption?

Wu Ying, named China's sixth richest woman in 2006, lost an appeal against her death sentence at the Zhejiang Higher People's Court on January 18, 2012. Many citizens have pleaded online for Wu's life believing the death sentence was meant to silence her from exposing corruption by government officials who may have loaned her embezzled public funds.

Suspicions grew stronger when Dong Yang City government submitted a joint letter to the courts recommending she be executed.

The 30-year old was first arrested in March 2007, charged with “illegal fundraising” of RMB 770 million (approximately USD 122 million). In December 18, 2009, the charge was changed to “financial fraud”, and she was sentenced to death by the Jinhua Intermediate People's Court. In Wu's first trial, there was no lawyer to represent her, and all trials including the appeal took place behind closed doors.

Human rights lawyer, Teng Biao, has written a very long article [zh] explaining some of the details known about Wu Ying's court case.

Wu Ying stood trial for financial fraud and was sentenced to death. Screen captured photo from NTDTV

A loan shark list

Wu started a beauty parlor business in Dong Yang city at the age of 22 in 2003. Her business then expanded to entertainment business and property investments. As is common for private entrepreneurs in China, she had difficulty obtaining loans from banks and had to raise funds by other means. In December 2006, her business had cash flow problems and she failed to pay back a debt to loan sharks. She was kidnapped, robbed and received death threats soon after she was released. Local police officers did not investigate her case. Instead, several months later, she was arrested.

During Wu's detention, she exposed a list of government officials who had illegally lent money to her. Three of them received long jail sentences. Later, local newspapers revealed [zh] that Wu had shared a list of 137 names of which 103 had lent her more than RMB 500,000. The speculation is that many local government officials may have been implicated. Officials who receive bribes, or obtain funds by other illegal means, are suspected of lending money to private businesses at high interest rates.

Inevitable illegal fundraising

Teng Biao points out [zh] that under the current financial system it is inevitable for the private business sector not to commit “illegal fundraising”; in other words, most of the successful private businesses in China have probably committed Wu Ying's “crime”:

民营企业却难以得到银行的支持,只能靠处于灰色地带的民间借贷。数据表明,银行的短期贷款中,民营企业只占不到20%。据全国工商联一项调查,有90%以上的民营中小企业表示,无法从银行获得贷款。全国民营企业和家族企业在过去三年中有近62.3%通过民间借贷的形式进行融资。

Without support from the banks, private businesses have to borrow money from the market. According to statistics, only 20% of short term bank loans go to private businesses. A bank survey shows that more than 90% SMEs [Small and Medium-sized Enterprises] said they had failed to obtain loans from banks. More than 62.3% of family businesses obtain their capital from the market.

An unjust system

Blogger Li Ming points out [zh], that if Wu must die, many more would follow:

吴英该杀,那么温州诸多“跑路老板”也该杀,借高利贷一掷千万金的“太太豪赌团”,以及所有把集资用于铺张挥霍的老板,都该抓来杀掉。有的富豪集资营运失败,享受救助待遇,而同属一类的吴英或遭遇杀头待遇,此大不公,此即法之大恶大暴。

If Wu must be killed, the runaway bosses in Wenzhou must be killed too. Those gamblers who borrow money from loan sharks, those bosses who show off their wealth with corporate money must be killed too. Now we have a group of business losers enjoying the government's bailout, while Wu Ying in a similar condition has been sentenced to death. This is so unjust. The law is evil.

Yao Shujie, an overseas scholar, observed more injustice in mainland Chinese society [zh]:

吴英只是对11人造成损失,而上市公司的老总们,却是给上亿无辜的股民造成巨大的损失。本质上,吴英和这些上市公司的老总,对人们造成的伤害,并没有任何差别。所不同的,吴英被判死刑,上市公司老总们,却照样拿数千万的年薪,照样升官。

还有,像许宗衡和刘志军这样的贪官,涉案金额高达百亿人民币,给国家和人民带来的灾难和对社会所产生的不良影响,比吴英的破坏力高出千百倍,却没有被判死。

12年前,赖昌星高达700亿元的惊天大案,因为逃到加拿大躲了11年,去年引渡回国时,却拿到了一块外国人给的免死金牌。

同样是一个国家,有道是,判死吴英,笑死无数贪官和赖昌星。

Wu Ying has only inflicted damage on 11 people. In the case of the listed companies, their failure would bring harm to millions of people. There is no different between Wu Ying and the CEOs of the listed companies but Wu has been sentenced to death, while all these CEOs are taking millions of paychecks and bonuses, and have a bright future waiting for them.

Corrupt officials such as Xu Zhonghang and Liu Zhijun, their cases involved tens of billions of RMB and the harm they caused is a thousand times more serious than Wu's. They were not sentenced to death.

Twelve years ago, Lai Changxing committed a RMB 70 billion corruption scandal. Since he managed to escape to Canada for 11 years, he received amnesty from the death sentence upon his return.

In one and the same country, people have such different fates. No wonder some think Wu's death sentence is a [source of] great entertainment to corrupt officials and Lai Changxing.

Is the death sentence really about Wu Ying's economic activities? Independent writer, Ye Kuangzheng, from Beijing does not think so [zh]:

地方官员联名要判吴英死刑,不仅为了灭囗,也是杀鸡儆猴,看谁进去了,还敢乱咬官员!吴英案仍有数亿资金未追回,匆忙杀了吴英,钱如何追回?难说背后没有潜藏的利益链。与吴英案有关的官员,为何至今未判?即便吴英罪大恶极,也应等资金和案情水落石出了,再做定夺不迟。

The government officials’ joint letter demanding Wu Ying's death is not just to silence her but to threaten others. Who else dares to expose the corruption of government officials during their detention? There are millions of dollars missing from Wu's bank accounts – who has taken the money? Once Wu is dead, who else can give us a clue? Are there interlocking interests behind all this? How come some of the government officials involved in the case are still uncharged? Even if Wu did deserve such a harsh penalty, we should still wait until the full truth is revealed before seeing her die.
  • RealityBites

    Government is always corrupt. It’s the only reason people go into it.
    Government is a group of criminals making the laws to govern other people with.
    They never think it applies to them.

    Doesn’t matter what language it speaks, if it’s in government it’s just criminal waiting to be imprisoned.

  • Pingback: China: A Death Sentence to Hide Government Corruption? | Care2 Causes

  • Armando Sanchez

    So sad to hear thar we stiil have this kind of governments in our World. Why the decided to kill her for fighting against bad people. There should be honest people in China government. Unfortunately the bad guys won this time.

  • http://hotmail.com Tan Huan

    If the likes of
    WuYing were sentenced to death. there wouldnot be any left to pilot China’s growth and wealth thereby returning China to the Mao’s era. May be this is what China’s Court wanted it to be.

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