• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 5:34am
PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 May, 2013, 4:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Pictured: Henan residents on rampage over Honda driver's sense of entitlement

BIO

Patrick Boehler has published on China and Southeast Asia in four languages for publications in the US, Europe and Asia. After stints with Austria's ministries of defence and foreign affairs in Vienna and Beijing, he began his reporting career in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian online news portal Malaysiakini and, later, The Irrawaddy Magazine, a Myanmar exile publication in Thailand. He holds a doctorate in political science and has taught journalism at the University of Hong Kong. Follow him on Twitter: @mrbaopanrui
 

When the side rearview mirror of a black Honda bumped a 10-year-old girl on her way home from school, the driver - instead of helping the child - insulted and hit the mother. "I come from an influential family," the driver said.

The incident on Friday evening in Henan province soon attracted an angry crowd of people who smashed and overturned the 26-year-old woman's car. A man surnamed Zhang tried to set it on fire, according to a police report.

It took police until midnight to pacify the crowd as photos and video footage of the scene circulated online. Many of the comments represented outrage against the sense of entitlement of the privileged few.

As the gap between rich and poor is increasing, examples of nepotism and favouritism are striking a nerve. Such distaste from the public has been characterised by the phrase "My dad is Li Gang" - the words of a police official's drunken son when he tried to avoid arrest after a student died in a car crash in 2010.

The phrase has become synonymous with fuerdai and guanerdai, second-generation rich and cadres, and has turned the 22-year-old son, now in jail after a public outcry, into the archetype of abuse of power.

This year, several local newspapers have given insights into the careers of the offspring of state leaders including Deng Xiaoping's grandson, Li Peng's daughter and Hu Jintao's son, leading netizens to heap scorn at "rocket-speed promotions" and their wealth.

The Central Propaganda Department had to ban reporting on official progeny careers, the China Digital Times reported this month. The ban apparently didn't keep the liberal Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly from quoting a Gansu official that 60 per cent of cadres' careers depend on personal relations.

The People's Daily, the Communist Party's mouthpiece, waded in suggesting that "exceptional affection can bring unintended harm". 

Such was the pressure that police in Jiyuan, where the incident on Friday occurred, hurried to prove that the driver, named Bi Jiao, had no "official background".

On its microblog, Jiyuan's public security department released the woman's age, place of residence and profession, as well as those of her 23 relatives, none of whom seemed to be in a senior government position. Bi is unemployed and unmarried. Her siblings are factory workers, and her parents are retired, police said.

It was also discovered that her black Honda sported fake licence plates.

Bi has since been put under administrative detention. The man who tried to set her car on fire has been criminally charged and detained. The man who sold her the fake plates was also held.

The girl who was hit is in hospital. Police reports did not elaborate on her injuries.

Many netizens were not convinced by the barrage of information, however, and wondered how the unemployed daughter of two retired ordinary workers could afford to drive a Honda. 

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