China general's son crashes into wall of outrage

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 13, 2011 2:29 AM
China general's son crashes into wall of outrage

BEIJING (Reuters) - A celebrity army general and his fast-driving son have become the target of Chinese public ire about the privileges of the political elite after the son hit and beat up a couple and then scoffed at bystanders about calling the police.

Li Tianyi, the teenage son of People's Liberation Army general Li Shuangjiang, a singer known for belting out patriotic songs for television shows and official events, careened a souped-up BMW into another car in Beijing last week, and since then the outrage has not stopped.

The younger Li and a friend driving another high-end car then jumped out and roughed up the couple in the other car, and shouted "Who dares call 110?" at alarmed onlookers, the Chinese emergency number used to summon police, media reported.

Li Senior and Junior have become the latest target of angry complaints that the sons and daughters of China's privileged Communist Party elite can scoff at the law because of their family influence.

"How could be a boy so arrogant, so unconscionable?!," one commenter, Pu Zhenghuan, said on's popular Chinese microblogging site.

"You have a powerful father, so you can do anything you like? No one can dial the police," another, Hong Can, said on the same website.

Last year, a 22-year-old man was sentenced to six years in jail after he ran over a student in a university in northern China and shouted "Sue me if you dare. My father is Li Gang!" He was arrested and punished after an online uproar started by students at the university.

Li Gang was a deputy police chief in the province, and since then his son's warning has become a byword for the reluctance of officials to confront powerful families.

Li, the 15-year-old son of the general, had no driver's license, according to the Beijing News, and his friend, Su Nan, drove a car with number plates that indicated it had high-level privileges. Police are often reluctant to confront cars with such official plates, although these turned out to be fake, according to some news reports.

The two youths were detained by police on charges of "stirring up trouble." Many comments on China's internet, however, have demanded harsh punishment for the two.

Pedestrians and ordinary drivers in Beijing and other Chinese cities often gripe about privileged drivers in cars with government and army number plates who flout the usual rules.

Li Shuangjiang, 72, the army general, has apologized for his son's actions and promised to make amends to the couple who were attacked.

(Reporting by Sally Huang and Chris Buckley)