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“My Dad is Li Gang!” (Chinese: 我爸是李刚!; Pinyin: wǒ bà shì lǐ gāng) is a popular catchphrase used ironically among Chinese netizens to avoid responsibility. The phrase stems from a fatal hit and run incident that occured near Hebei University in Baoding, China, in which a drunk driver named Li Qiming yelled at his pursuers, “Go ahead, sue me if you dare. My dad is Li Gang!”, referring to the Deputy Director of Baoding Public Security Bureau.
As a result, any reference to “Li Gang” has become associated with acting recklessly above the law because of supposed connections to government officials. The “Li Gang incident,” as it sometimes called, is also notable for being the subject of one of the most intense human flesh search engines ever conducted by Chinese netizens, among the likes of the Wang Jue (王珏) and Zhang Ya (张雅) episodes.
On October 16th, 2010, an intoxicated driver named Li Qiming (李启铭) drove a black Volkswagen sedan into Hebei University, hitting two girls who were rollerblading . One girl, Chen Xiaofeng (陈晓凤), was sent flying while the other girl, Zhang Jingjing (张晶晶), had her leg broken . Li Qiming drove past the victims and sped toward the campus gate to drop off his girlfriend before being intercepted by crowds of people and security guards . Undeterred, he yelled at the guards, “Go ahead, sue me if you dare, my father is Li Gang!” before being taken away – referencing his father, deputy director of the Baoding City Public Security Bureau, Li Gang. Chen Xiaofeng died on October 17, 2010, and Zhang Jingjing’s fractured leg was treated in a hospital .
The incident produced a lot of sympathy for Chen Xiaofeng’s family, and outrage at Li Qiming:
On Oct. 17 a few dozen students and teachers held a vigil, lighting a dozen candles at the scene of the first accident. By 10 p.m. over 400 people had gathered.
“The public is angered by Li’s actions and is waiting to see whether the legal system will make a just ruling,” the staff member said, declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the case.
A Hebei University student left the message: “I was at the memorial. I heard the school wants to hush it up. I won’t rest until the driver is punished!”
Another student posted, “I just came back from the memorial and I heard that the problem will be taken care of under the table. What makes them think they can buy a girl’s life? It seems that the school wants to keep it low profile, so what can we do?”
A blogger from Hebei posted, “That scumbag [Li] shames everyone in Baoding. Li Gang is only a lower ranking officer and his son is already this savage?”
Human Flesh Search Engine
This story spread very quickly throughout the Chinese internet, and soon Chinese netizens deployed their infamous Human Flesh Search Engine to uncover information about Li Qiming and Li Gang. They called the search the “Official Second-Generation” (a reference to the “second generation” of Chinese wealthy people and officials).
It was not yet known who Li Gang exactly was at first, but Chinese netizens quickly figured out that Li Gang was the deputy director of the Baoding City Public Security Bureau . Netizens also located Li Gang’s five real estate properties, which exceeded the finances of a simple Deputy chief, evidence that Li Gang was involved in corrupt, illegal practices .
Netizens also found a lot of Li Qiming’s personal information, and even posted pictures of him:
One of the interesting, and also controversial, findings that resulted from this search was that the Hebei University president was suspected of plagiarizing around 27,000 characters of his thesis from Wang Hongrui- an unintentional discovery resulting from the Li Gang search.
“My Dad is Li Gang!”
An epic “Li Gang” MOP thread was started on October 20, 2010, receiving over 3500 replies. The thread revolved around inserting the phrase, “My Dad is Li Gang!” into classic Chinese poetry, or making your own related poetry. The thread eventually devolved into simpler jokes about how having Li Gang as your father makes you invincible (typically in the form of a proverb).
There must be a mentor/teacher for me among any three travelers -Confucius
There must be a Dad for me among any three travelers, and his name is Li Gang.
Mistress into Maid by Alexander Pushkin
Should this life sometimes deceive you,
Don’t be sad or mad at it!
On a gloomy day, submit:
Trust--My Dad is Li Gang, why grieve you?
The luminous moonshine before my bed,
Is thought to be the frost fallen on the ground.
I lift my head to yell at the security gard,
My father is Li Gang.
If life deceives you, do not fret, your father is Li Gang.
Why should I shower? My dad is Li Gang.
Oh, by the way, I’m not handing in my homework today. My dad is Li Gang.
Give me a Gang, and I can hold up the entire planet.
Not every brand of milk is perfect, not every dad is Li Gang.
All reactionaries are all paper tigers, for my dad is Li Gang.
Li Qiming, your father wants you to come home for dinner!
Do not obsess over me, my father is only Li Gang.
Just hours later, the same concept (except more focused on proverbs, rather than poetry) was applied to an epic End of the World thread, receiving over 4400 replies.
This same game was applied to other forums and threads, causing the Li Gang incident to become a hot topic among Chinese netizens:
- End of the World (20 Oct 2010)
- End of the World thread 2 (20 Oct 2010)
- Auto Sina BBS (21 Oct 2010)
- Panjin Sina BBS (21 Oct 2010)
- MOP thread (21 Oct 2010)
- End of the World thread 3 (22 Oct 2010)
Numerous image parodies were also made:
Censorship of the Incident
Chinese netizens were determined to publicize the incident, evidenced by their efforts to spread the story to other internet users despite censorship by the Chinese government.
Some of the earliest suspicions of censorship in this incident arose after witnesses from Hebei University suddenly started refusing to talk about the Li Gang incident. Some students later privately admitted that the University was issuing a gag order.
Realizing that the bad publicity of Li Gang’s family was reflecting poorly on the Chinese government, Li Qiming and his family were shown apologizing on October 22, 2010, with both Li Qiming and Li Gang breaking down in tears. However, the nature of the incident (hit and run, expecting to be protected by his father’s status), as well as the fact that the apology was shown on CCTV (a news program that is seen as an instrument of the government), caused netizens to become even more infuriated, claiming that the apology was something of “a show.”
The actual apology:
It was announced that Li Qiming, who had been detained by police, was arrested on October 24, 2010 . No further interviews were allowed.
A response to Li’s apology by Chen Xiaofeng’s brother and father did not receive the same special treatment. The small Fenghuang Satellite Television program conducted an interview with Chen Xiaofeng’s family in early November, but the Central Propaganda Department banned any more broadcasting of the interview after November 4 . The video was uploaded to Tudou repeatedly by internet users, but also deleted repeatedly for supposedly “unknown reasons.”
Response of Chen Xiaofeng’s family:
First of all, I don’t accept the apology. It’s not something that can be solved by an apology. And they hope for a negotiation, it’s not something that I want. It’s not as if that the State does what I tell them to. But there can be some justice in the verdict, I know though I don’t study the law. But I understand a little bit. First of all, the way of getting a verdict is different. Perhaps purely because of a traffic [accident] he might get seven years, but from another point of view, he should get the death sentence. In this process I won’t deny that I’ve thought about them using their abilities to change the verdict. If it was me, if this happened to my kid, then it’s a problem caused by my way of educating them or my family, including spoiling him … I am not opposed to spoiling in society, but when something bad does happen, then you should ask them to think about it, not lessen their pressure, not help them to escape, if they’re wrong they’re wrong. This is something caused by your family. In society they say everyone is equal, but in every corner there is inequality. I hope that experts from different fields will help argue the case, that it’s not just simply a traffic accident.
- Chen Lin
The music video described earlier has also been removed from Tudou, along with many other videos and posts made about the Li Gang incident. The interviews of Chen Xiaofeng, even those uploaded to YouTube, have also been blocked.
This very delicate situation (reaffirming the belief that corrupt officials are above the law) also prompted the Chinese Government (which has been humorously called The Ministry of Truth) to send instructions to Chinese media outlets. These instructions, which were leaked, are shown below:
October 27, 2010
On-line media are not allowed to offer news related to Li Gang.
(Source: China Digital Times)
On January 30, 2011, the final verdict on Li Qiming’s sentence was announced; after pleading to vehicular manslaughter and drunk driving, he has been sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay 460,000 RMB (approximately $69,000) to Chen Xiaofeng’s family and 91,000 RMB (approximately $13,800) to Zhang Jingjing .
Interest Over Time
[“My Dad is Li Gang” in Blue, “Li Qiming” in Red]
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