The meticulously planned murder of a leather tycoon at his home in Wenzhou, the centre of capitalism in China, has struck fear into the hearts of the country's rich. The murder took place in the booming city in the southeast that is a major producer of consumer goods and has the highest concentration of entrepreneurs in China - 130,000 registered private businesses in a population of 7.5 million, with 3,000 BMWs and 1,200 Mercedes Benz. That was what brought the two assassins, both university educated, to the city in Zhejiang province - they were looking for a tycoon to rob and knew Wenzhou would offer them plenty of choice. The city symbolises what China has become after 25 years of runaway capitalism - the rich drive luxury imported cars, live in villas costing more than 10 million yuan and dine on shrimp and abalone, spending in one night what their workers earn in six months. A few kilometres away, ramshackle brick terraces house their workers - six to a room, using one cramped, smelly toilet -who toil 12 hours a day to earn 800 yuan a month. Urban residents on average earn more than three times as much as their rural counterparts, one of the largest wealth gaps in the world. This was the main item on the agenda of the Communist Party's annual planning session in Beijing in mid-October and a major reason why the number of officially registered mass protests last year rose to 74,000 from 10,000 in 1994. Rural migrants have been blamed for carrying out most of the 9,000 crimes last year in the Longwan district of Wenzhou, where the murder took place - kidnapping entrepreneurs and their children and stealing the large quantities of cash they use in preference to cheques. But what was most shocking about the murder was that it was committed not by such penniless farmers, but two men in their 20s who had studied for four years at university and believed their education would give them easy access to their victim. Well educated though they were, the two came from poor, rural families in the mountains of Sichuan . Their parents spent their life savings and had to borrow to put their sons through college. They burned with resentment that their education had not brought them the wealth and status they desired, but only student debts and the social prejudice attached to poverty and the countryside. 'In this society, all that counts is money,' Luo Jijun, 28, one of the two, told police after his arrest. 'Money means that you are somebody. If you have money, who dares to bully you? Money means women and fast cars.' The murder occurred on July 28, when Luo and his accomplice, Zhuo Ke, let themselves into the house of Lin Jing , using a key Luo had secretly made while working for Lin six months earlier. The two took his cash - only 1,600 yuan - and a mobile phone and demanded his bank credit card. When Lin said that the card was in his office, the two strangled him and drove his car to a remote hillside where they buried his body. Then they left the car at a busy junction, with the doors open and the key inside, making it easy for someone to steal it. Luo had started working for his victim at the start of this year, answering an ad he put on the internet for a university student as an assistant. At the interview, he impressed Lin, who had received only a high school education, and got the job. In May, Luo resigned, with the excuse that he wanted to go back to his native Sichuan province to set up in business. With his accomplice Zhuo, Luo then tracked Lin's movements, enabling them to know his daily schedule and plan the murder during a night when Lin was alone at home. But the crime brought them only the 1,600 yuan and the mobile, since they could not find the credit card. They had planned to make Lin reveal the code and withdraw all his money. Luo then fled to the Qingpu district of Shanghai, where he found a job in a privately owned plastics factory and was planning to kill the owner in the same way. In September, police arrested Zhuo, still in Wenzhou, and then Luo. Luo told police after his arrest: 'Money means success. I had to get money. Those with money have so much more opportunities than we village boys.' He revealed that the two had committed an earlier murder, killing a taxi driver in Shenzhen in September 2004, from which they obtained his Honda, 100 yuan, HK$40 and a Nokia mobile phone. They picked him because they could not find a rich man. The two are almost certain to be executed. For the city police, the murder represents a new front in the battle against crime. Shi Deguang, police chief for Longwan, said that previously Wenzhou entrepreneurs were robbed when they went out of the city. 'Now the criminals are coming here to look for them,' he said. 'Some select a target in advance, others choose one at random. 'Migrants come here to work, and they see the wealth of individuals and the huge gap between rich and poor. Some cannot accept this psychologically. In other cases, firms that fall into financial trouble resort to kidnapping to make money.' Among major cases last year was a gang from Guizhou that followed a rich man who took his son to school each day in a luxury car. They kidnapped the son and demanded a ransom of 300,000 yuan. Another 17-member gang carried out 10 robberies of company officials in less than a month, taking large sums of cash - up to one million yuan - to the bank in nylon and plastic bags. Many Wenzhou firms prefer to conduct their business in cash. In September, police arrested a 29-year-old woman, the owner of a glass factory, who had organised a gang to kidnap and hold for ransom five company bosses over two months from late July. She needed the money to repay business debts, she told police, who were stunned to find a person of her status involved in such crimes. 'The rich in Wenzhou love to flaunt their wealth. You can see them driving their BMWs and Mercedes. I am in business, I know the way they think.' Entrepreneurs are responding to the increased threat by adopting a lower profile. They live in compounds protected by 24-hour security and their name cards do not carry their home address or telephone number. They do not invite to their homes anyone other than family and close friends. When they buy a home, they do not use their own name but that of a relative, making it harder to trace where they live. For entertaining, they go less frequently to karaoke and night clubs, where they can be seen by the public. But so far few business people use personal bodyguards. This is because they see such a move as possibly inviting a wolf into the fold - a bodyguard is a potential robber who is privy to all the details of their private life. Also, having a bodyguard carries a social stigma - it suggests someone is after the person being protected, and is something usually associated with triad bosses. Police in Wenzhou discourage the use of bodyguards but advise companies to use security personnel to move large sums of money or goods. Ma Jinlong, economics professor at Wenzhou University, said that Luo and Zhuo could not accept the gap between rich and poor and the unequal treatment they faced. 'This made them lose their psychological balance. Add to that the tradition in China of robbing from the rich, and the two abandoned the normal route of saving capital and became ruthless killers.'