Chinese real estate tycoon sentenced to five years in prison for molesting a 9-year-old girl
Published: Jun 17, 2020 07:28 PM

File Photo: IC

Chinese real estate tycoon Wang Zhenhua, 58, was sentenced to five years in prison for child molestation at his trial conducted by a court in Putuo district, Shanghai, on Wednesday, one year after he was initially detained for molesting a nine-year-old girl in a Shanghai hotel room. Zhou Yanfen, 50, Wang's accomplice, was also sentenced to four years. 

The court ruled that Wang's behavior was classified as molestation instead of rape as the victim's statement, the judicial appraisal, and defendant's confession all showed that Wang had molested the victim, but did not prove there was any sexual-related contact, People's Daily reported.

According to China's Criminal Law, some sexual abuse crimes can result in prison sentences of up to five years, with those guilty of sexually abusing children facing more severe punishments. 

The court ruled that Wang should be handed a heavier sentence as he committed molestation and caused minor injuries on a victim under 12 years old and refused to plead guilty.

However, the court's verdict has sparked public outcry on China's social media platforms, with many Chinese netizens believing that Wang's punishment, as well as that for many other child molesters, is far too light.

"The cost of such crimes is too low, meaning that child abuse is somewhat condoned, and such low prison sentences will only lead to more disgusting behaviors against our young children," one Sina Weibo user said.

Many social media users also questioned the final verdict and suggested that, instead of child molestation, Wang should be charged with rape, which would result in a longer prison sentence, after considering the girl's age and the significant vaginal injuries that she sustained.

"It is just unfair. It is rape, not molestation. Why are such crimes not punished with 20 or 30 years in prison? Maybe the courts should enforce castration to curb child predators," read one comment on Weibo.

Some even questioned that justice was not relative to other situations. "It is an even lighter punishment than writing adult fiction books," another said.

Wang, the former Chairman of Chinese real-estate developer Seazen Holdings and founder of Future Land Development Holdings, was detained in July after the girl's mother notified the police on June 30, 2019, claiming that her friend, Zhou, brought her daughter from their hometown in East China's Jiangsu Province to a hotel in Shanghai, where her daughter had later been molested by Wang, according to reports.

Seazen Holdings declared on July 3 that their Chairman, Wang, had been detained for "personal reasons", and that Wang Xiaosong, Wang's son, would take over as the company's new chairman.

The China People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Shanghai organization revoked Wang's CPPCC member qualification on July 8 after the incident. 

Jiangsu Province, Wang's hometown, revoked Wang's title of Model Worker on July 23. China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security also revoked his title of National Model Worker on May 29 this year.