One of Beijing's top property developers has being charged with weapons offences after a late-night car race with another real estate mogul's son ended in flames and a heated row between the two notorious playboys.
The incident, reported by the Chinese media yesterday, has further angered Beijing residents, who complain that the so-called "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 – treat the city as their personal playground.
Wang Ke and Wang Shuo were allegedly racing their cars on the streets of Beijing's popular shopping district Wangfujing in December when they both 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 then 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, and fled the scene leaving the vehicle burning in the street. He turned himself in the following day.
The skirmish in the capital's prime retail area, with apparently no consideration for the potential danger to passers-by, underlines feelings that the children of the "new rich" and the offspring of the Communist political elite follow a different code to everyone else in China.
One web commentator, Suipaila, wrote: "This is socialism for the rich. Wang is brought up with money and power." Another blogger, Miyan, wrote: "The law is only written to rule the ordinary people – if a dog bites, who will punish them?"
Earlier this month, Li Tianyi, the son of the popular singer Li Shuangjiang, was given a year of re-education through labour after driving a BMW car without a licence and hitting a couple in Beijing's Haidian district.
Wang Shuo, 29, deputy general manager of Beijing Wangfu Century Development, will stand trial for illegally possessing weapons and destruction of personal property, the China Daily reported.
A police search of his home yielded four guns, 2,000 air-gun pellets and six live rounds of ammunition. Guns are strictly controlled in China and are not widespread. Five others stand accused of helping Wang Shuo buy the weapons and destroying evidence. All six have been released on bail.
Wang Ke took to Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo to defend himself against the "playboy" tag.
"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.
Tang Hongxin, a criminal lawyer at the Ying Ke law firm, told the China Daily that 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 insisted.