In May 2009, a wealthy 20-year-old was drag racing through the city streets of Hangzhou, China, when his Mitsubishi struck and killed a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The car was traveling so fast that the victim—a 25-year-old telecom engineer of a modest, rural background—was flung at least 20 yards. Afterward, bystanders and reporters photographed the driver, Hu Bin, as well as his rich friends, who nonchalantly smoked cigarettes and laughed while waiting for the police to arrive at the scene.
These images, soon posted online, provoked a public outcry. Anger over the callous behavior of these wealthy Chinese youths was followed by accusations of a police cover-up. First, the local authorities admitted that they had underestimated the speed Hu’s vehicle was traveling by half. (Incredibly, the police had first suggested that Hu was going no more than 43 mph.) Public furor rose again when Hu received a three-year prison sentence, an exceptionally light punishment in a country where drunk drivers guilty of similar accidents can receive the death penalty.
But the most stunning allegation was that the man appearing in court and serving the three-year sentence wasn’t Hu at all, but a hired body double.