Chinese style capitalism leads to capital punishment for 31-year old tycoon

Tania Branigan, the China corespondent of the Guardian newspaper, has an excellent profile of Wu Ying, a 31-year old entrepreneur who has been handed the death penalty for what the courts dubbed "fraudulent fundraising."

Wu, who started in business at the tender age of seven selling rabbit fur was believed to be the sixth richest woman in China by age 25 after building an empire of beauty salons, dry-cleaning outlets and karaoke bars.

But too much debt – raised outside the official banking system – brought it all crashing down within a few short years and she was sentenced to death in the eastern Zhejiang province of China in January over "huge losses to the nation and people with her severe crimes".

Branigan writes: "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 defence – that she was been singled out because she implicated high-ranking government officials involved in loan-sharking – fell on deaf ears.

The article also quotes influential economist and former head of Beijing University's management school Zhang Weiying: "Wu's death penalty is a setback for the cause of reform in China. Judging from this case, how far are we from the market economy? At least 300 years."