Singing Chinese General's Teenage Son Guilty of Gang Rape
17-year-old Li Guanfeng, the child of a popular tenor and People's Liberation Army official, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
BEIJING – A court in Beijing has found Li Guanfeng, the 17-year-old son of popular tenor and People's Liberation Army general Li Shuangjiang, guilty on charges of gang-raping a woman earlier this year and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
Public reaction to the case has been characterized by resentment toward children of the political elite, the "second-generation rich," who are widely seen as spoiled brats who abuse their privileged positions.
Li was one of five men found guilty of sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman in a hotel in Haidian in west Beijing in February after a night of drinking.
Li's father, Li Shuangjiang, is known for performing patriotic songs on television shows and at official events. He is the dean of the music department at the Chinese army's Academy of Arts and has the same rank as a lieutenant-general. His mother, Meng Ge, is also a famous singer in the PLA.
In 2011, the then-15-year-old Li was sentenced to detention for a year over a road rage incident that triggered a similar public outcry. While driving a BMW with no plates, he assaulted a middle-aged couple in another car that got in his way and shouted at bystanders, telling them not to "dare to call the police." His father subsequently apologized to the couple over the incident.
"I think this verdict is unjust," Chen Shu, one of Li's lawyers, told reporters. "This decision is based on evidence that is delayed and verbal testimony. This type of verbal testimony is unreliable." Chen had argued that the woman was a prostitute, and the matter should be tried as a prostitution case rather than rape.
Three of the accused men apologized in court and their families have given the victim 450,000 yuan ($73,500) in total in compensation, according to Chen.
The punishment comes amid a broader government crackdown on corruption and an attempt to improve the Communist Party's image in light of the criticism of privilege and abuse of power among the political mandarins.
The government under President Xi Jinping is fearful that public discontent with official abuse could lead to social instability and undermine single-party rule by the Communist Party.
The public is increasingly impatient with the behavior of the "taizidang," or princelings.
The case caused even more of a stir among the general population than the dramatic trial of ousted former senior politician Bo Xilai.