Apex court spares Chinese tycoon’s life
AP BEIJING CHINA’S Supreme Court on Friday rejected the death sentence of an ex-tycoon who was convicted of illegally raising money for her business in a case that prompted a public outcry. The Supreme Court said it was sending 31-year-old Wu Ying back for resentencing in her home province of Zhejiang in China’s southeast.
Wu was known for a rags-toriches story in which she built up a multimillion-dollar business.
State media praised her as an example to Chinese female entrepreneurs. But she later was convicted of illegally raising $120 million from investors in 2005-07.
Wu’s penalty prompted an outcry on Internet bulletin boards by supporters who said it was too severe in a system in which corrupt Communist Party officials often escape punishment.
All death sentences are automatically reviewed by the Supreme People’s Court, but in an apparent effort to mollify public anger, the court took the unusual step of announcing it had received Wu’s case and would review it “with care.” On Friday, the court said Wu’s case would be sent back to the Zhejiang Higher People’s Court. “I feel relaxed after I saw my daughter Wu Ying’s death penalty has not been approved,” Wu’s father, Wu Yongzheng, wrote on the microblog site Weibo.com.
“But I still cannot relax as I do not know the final result. The suffering keeps on going, and I thank you all again.” The official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday that the supreme court‚ noting that Wu admitted her crimes after she was arrested‚ ruled that immediate execution “may be inappropriate” in Wu’s case.
The case has prompted debate over the financial difficulties Chinese entrepreneurs face in raising money in a country where the state-owned banking system channels most lending to state companies.
The communist government has launched a pilot project in Wu’s home city of Wenzhou, known for its thriving private enterprises, aimed at making it easier for entrepreneurs to get bank loans. In March, Premier Wen Jiabao told reporters that the case shows that the development of private lending has not kept up with the economic and social needs of China.
Wen also asked the court to “seek truth from facts.” Wu dropped out of school as teenager and began her business empire with a hair salon.
Like many entrepreneurs, she raised money from private lenders outside the government- controlled banking system.
Communist authorities have tolerated underground lending as a way to support entrepreneurs who create jobs and tax revenue.
But they began cracking down in recent years, apparently concerned about the large scale of borrowing and the possible involvement of state banks and companies.
Some news reports have said Wu was accused of cheating investors, but details of her case have not been released.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, China on Friday rejected claims it had supplied military arms and equipment to North Korea, insisting that it adhered “strictly” to UN resolutions prohibiting the supply of weapons or related materials to Pyongyang’s isolated communist regime.
“We’ve been carrying out the UN Security Council’s related resolutions strictly,” spokesman Liu Weiming told reporters. “China always resists the spread of weapons of mass destructionand their carriers.” US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday told members of the House Armed Services Committee that China had assisted North Korea’s missile programme.
“I’m sure there’s been some help coming from China,” he said when asked whether Beijing could have supported the programme, but added that he didn’t know the “exact extent.” North Korea showcased a 16-wheel missile-carrying truck at a military parade in Pyongyang on Sunday, which several analysts said appeared to be made in China.
China and other UN member states are banned from supplying North Korea with equipment that could be used for military purposes.