The UK media has been focusing, quite justifiably, upon the case of Li Qiming, the drunk driver who’s been given six years for killing a pedestrian. The case earned notoriety and aroused fury in China when Li Qiming, who had been stopped from fleeing the scene by passers-by, had shouted “Go and sue me – my father’s Li Gang!” Li Gang, as many in the city of Baoding would have known, is a local police chief.
Li Qiming’s attitude is common: there’s a breed of offspring in China today who think (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say know) that their family connections put them above the law. A quick search of Chinese websites revealed related cases that haven’t made it onto the radar of the mainstream Western media…
In 2009, a 24-year-old man named Tan Zhuo was killed by Hu Bin, the 20-year-old son of a rich businessman, who already had a record for speeding and was driving a converted high-performance car. The police initially said Hu Bin had been doing 70kmph, but later admitted it had been up to 101kmph. Hu Bin got just 3 years, for a traffic offence, though there were calls for him to face more serious charges of crimes against public security, which carry terms of anything from 10 years, to life imprisonment, or even the death penalty. Internet conspiracy theories soon had it that the Hu Bin who’d appeared in court was a ringer who’d been paid to do the time, while Hu Bin himself had fled the country. Few really took the suggestion seriously, but one gets the feeling that doubts like this are fuelled by people who are heartily sick of the Fu'erdai, or Rich Second Generation, treating public spaces like the untouchable emperors they’ve become.
Worse even than Hu Bin’s case is that of Zhang Mingbao, who in 2009 killed 5 people, one of them a pregnant woman, after he crashed his car in Nanjing while drunk. Zhang had 80 traffic offences to his name, 39 of them for speeding. Zhang (not the son of a rich businessman) was sentenced to life for endangering public safety, though the court was criticized by victims’ relatives for not handing down a death sentence.
Hmmm, capital punishment for causing death while driving under the influence of alcohol? Now there’s a thought.