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LinkAsia | Mar 4
Li Tianyi, son of beloved Chinese singer Li Shuangjiang, has been arrested for gang rape. Tianyi and four other men were taken into custody in Beij...
Last year, in a case that generated enormous controversy, a 22-year-old man was drunk driving on a college campus in China, when he hit two students, killing one young woman. As he tried to get away, he yelled out, "My father is Li Gang!" It turns out that Li Gang was an influential local police official. The incident enraged the public, exposing a deep rift in Chinese society, where power and money call the shots, and children of the privileged can feel a monstrous sense of entitlement. Now, David Bandurski tells us, it's deja vu all over again, with another case grabbing attention.
On the night of September 6th, a young couple was slowing to turn into their apartment complex in Beijing, when they were rear-ended by a BMW. The driver of the BMW and an accomplice stepped out and attacked the couple in front of their five-year-old child. Eye witnesses said that as they beat the couple, the assailant shouted, "Who dares call 110?" 110 is China's emergency number. But local residents did call the police, and they kept the assailants from driving off. Both husband and wife sustained head wounds and were treated at a local hospital. The next day came the surprise that made this a major national story. It turned out that one of the assailants was the 15-year-old son of this man: Li Shuangjiang, one of China's best known male vocalists and a regular headliner at pro-party holiday galas. Here, he sings a pro-party red anthem at an event earlier this year. The connection to the prominent Li Shuangjiang, a cultural legend who holds the army rank of major general, caused many Chinese to quickly turn this story to the issue of the ugly results of runaway power, privilege, and inequality. This user writes, "The 'My dad is Li Gang case' and this 'Who dares call 110?' case show us that in the eyes of the children of officials and the rich there are no laws, and how they are swollen with arrogance. We hope for equality in the eyes of the law and the protection of citizen's rights." Microblog users like this one rapidly shared the news based on newspaper photographs that the BMW had a parking permit for the Great Hall of the People, a building symbolizing government power, and a submachine gun was also found in the vehicle. Police later confirmed that the gun was a fake, but that of course didn't stop the satire, like this drawing shared on social media with a parody of a classical Chinese poem: "Bright moonlight at my bedside, I am Li Shuangjiang's son, whoever dares call 110 will see my submachine gun." Social media were an important source of background too. "I've just found this video from 2009," said this user. In it, Li Tianyi's parents talk about how they've instilled strong values in their son. How he's a young patriot who wants to sing China's national anthem rather than the Star Spangled Banner at the start of his school day in the United States. Li Shuangjiang reacted to the news of his son's conduct by visiting the injured couple in the hospital. He apologized and offered to cover their medical expenses personally. Li said he would not interfere with the investigation, but would let justice take its course. And justice came on September 15th as Beijing police said Li's son would be detained in a correctional facility for one year. As many Chinese were hailing the decision, and others calling it excessive, another scandal broke out this week. A 19-year-old driver in Wenzhou was surrounded by a crowd and kept at bay after he reportedly struck a middle-aged man with his car. A rumor spread on the scene that he had shouted, "My father is the mayor!" This latest catch-phrase for privileged arrogance, rumor or not, spread across the country in less than 24 hours. It speaks to a growing public frustration in China at the perception that the rich and powerful can get away with anything, because ordinary Chinese are powerless to stop them. In Hong Kong, I'm David Bandurski for LinkAsia.