Public anger continues to swell over a high-profile incident involving a 17-year-old son of an army general who is accused of participating in a gang rape in Beijing, in the latest example of a child of privilege acting as if he was above the law.
Four of the five detained suspects, who are accused of raping a young woman on February 17, are minors, the Beijing Morning Post reported yesterday. This includes Li Guanfeng, son of Li Shuangjiang, a senior official in the People's Liberation Army who is famous for singing patriotic songs at public events and enjoys a non-commanding rank equivalent to major general.
According to the newspaper, the five suspects - one aged 24 and the others aged 16 or 17 - are suspected of bringing a young, drunk woman from a bar to the Hubei Hotel in Beijing and raping her. The woman was reportedly beaten violently.
By yesterday afternoon, more than six million internet users had made microblog comments about the case, with many saying the younger Li's alleged actions were villainous and served as the latest example of debauchery among children of China's party cadres.
And this wasn't Li Guanfeng's first brush with the law. In 2011, at the age of 15, he was sentenced to a year in a youth reformation centre for driving a souped-up BMW without a licence and assaulting a couple near his Beijing home while shouting: "Who dares call the police?"
"It was Li this time, and next time it will be another child of a high-ranking official," said one internet user, going by the name "Half-Rainbow Knight". "Their fathers' privilege endows them with the courage and ability to commit misdeeds."
Gong Wentao , a Shenzhen-based IT engineer, also said he was angry at the younger Li and didn't think the teenager cared who he hurt.
Many internet users are calling for a thorough investigation, as well as an appropriate punishment if Li Guanfeng is found guilty. There were also rumours swirling that he was actually 19 years old and that his parents falsified his age to shield him as a minor. Beijing police could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Formerly called Li Tianyi , Li Guanfeng's name was changed by his parents after his release in September last year after serving the hit-and-run sentence, according to several mainland media reports.
Li Guanfeng's father, 74, was sickened by the news that his son was allegedly involved in a gang rape, according to the Beijing Morning Post yesterday. And other media reported that Li's mother, who is also a singer for the army, begged the public for mercy on her son's behalf.
Police detained Li Guanfeng and his alleged accomplices on Wednesday in a hotel car park, a day after the victim went to the police. She is not a Beijing native, according to police, who also denied online rumours that she was a minor.
In 2010, a 23-year-old son of a deputy police chief of Baoding , Hebei province, triggered a national outcry after police said he was driving drunk when he hit and killed a university student, then fled the scene.
The man allegedly taunted onlookers, saying: "Go ahead and sue me. My father is Li Gang", before driving away.