Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Seeing Double

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Seeing Double

Article excerpt

Byline: Rosamund Urwin

IS that really Gu Kailai? That was the question spreading across the internet yesterday as the 52-year-old received a suspended death sentence for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Conspiracy theorists argued that the once-glamorous wife of the tarred politician Bo Xilai had undergone such a metamorphosis -- a softer chin, a flatter nose, a plumper figure -- that they believed she had been replaced by a lookalike. The whispers were of such a magnitude that the phrase "body double" was apparently censored on the Chinese internet.

While the claim is perhaps most telling about a lack of faith in the country's justice system, it isn't quite as outlandish as it may sound. In China, hiring a doppelganger to serve jail time is a relatively common scam among the swelling ranks of the super-rich. There is even a name for the practice -- "ding zui", where ding means "substitute" and zui means "crime". According to an article in Slate magazine, a homeless Chinese man was paid $31 a day to stand in for the owner of a demolition company that had knocked down a building illegally earlier this year. …

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