Playboy of the eastern world faces charges after late-night showdown

 

ONE OF Beijing’s top property developer playboys is being charged with weapons offences after a late-night showdown in downtown Beijing with another tycoon’s son, with guns waved and cars rammed.

In Beijing they are known as “the four capital playboys” – an elite group of young property developers from rich families, with money to burn, time to kill, film star girlfriends and a sense of entitlement that drives Beijingers crazy.

Last December, Wang Ke and Wang Shuo went racing their cars on the streets of Wangfujing – Beijing’s shopping district – and they crashed near a busy intersection.

The two men, who share the common Chinese surname Wang but are not related, got into a row. Wang Shuo allegedly pointed a gun through the car window at Wang Ke, who called the police.

Wang Shuo then put his car into reverse and rammed Wang Ke’s car, according to the charge sheet, leaving it burning in the street, and fled. He turned himself in the following day. The case is only coming to trial now.

The skirmish in the capital’s prime retail area, with apparently no consideration for the potential danger to passersby, underlines popular feelings that the children of the new rich, as well as the “princelings”, as the offspring of the Communist political elite in China are called, follow a different code to ordinary people.

Earlier this month, Li Tianyi, the son of popular singer Li Shuangjiang, was given a year of re-education through labour after driving a BMW car without a driving licence and hitting a couple in Beijing’s Haidian district.

Wang Shuo (29) is deputy general manager of Beijing Wangfu Century Development and he will stand trial for illegally possessing weapons and destruction of personal property, the China Dailyhas reported. He is the adopted son of a famous actress who is married to a top official and is a former boyfriend of leading Chinese actress Zhou Xun.

A police search of his home yielded four guns, 2,000 air-gun pellets and six live rounds of ammunition.

Five others stand accused of helping Wang Shuo buy the weapons and destroying evidence. All six were released on bail.

A look at the car number plates offers an insight to the kind of privilege these people enjoy.

In China, official cars have white number plates; both cars involved in the incident appear to have official plates – Wang Shuo’s has the number plates of the central public security bureau and his uncle is a senior figure in the police force, local media report. Wang Ke’s licence plate is also an official plate.

Wang Ke, who is married to the actress Liu Tao, defended himself on the Sina Weibo social network, China’s equivalent of the banned Twitter service, saying the trouble all started when he was nicknamed “Capital Playboy” by unknown people in the media.

“I am married and I have my own business. I struggled through the economic crisis. I’ve experienced hard times and I know what it tastes like. I’m not what people think I am – don’t put a feudal hat on my head,” he wrote.

The other two “capital playboys” are Wang Xiaofei, whose mother owns the South Beauty chain of restaurants, and Wang Yu, who is son of former Shanghai mayor Wang Daohan.

A copy of the indictment was posted on Weibo and has been forwarded tens of thousands of times.

Tang Hongxin, a criminal lawyer at the Ying Ke law firm, told the China Dailythat Wang Shuo could be facing more than seven years in prison if he is convicted.

“Everyone is equal before the law. There are no exceptions for rich men,” he said. “Celebrities who commit crimes can often have a more negative effect than ordinary people.”