Rape Charges Against PLA General’s Son Uncertain

Li Guanfeng (also known as Li Tianyi), the 17-year-old son of high-profile People’s Liberation Army singer Li Shuangjiang, was arrested in February on suspicion of involvement with a gang rape. Li is now set to go on trial, but official media reports indicate that the charges against him may be less severe than anticipated. From the South China Morning Post:

The official China News Agency reported on Thursday that “Li’s son, together with four others took turns… having sex with a woman”, a sharp contrast with previous reports alleging the woman had been “gang raped”.

Changes in the wording of the reports have prompted fears that influential people connected with the accused might be interfering in the case, as the new wording may imply that there was no force involved during the sexual intercourses. In China, the government sometimes forces the media to publish scripted official reports on sensitive subjects.

“If a gang rape can be called ‘taking turns having sex,’ then killing can be called terminating someone’s life, drug dealing can be called providing addictive food and gambling can be called entertainment with rewards,” said the news portal ifeng.com in a blog.

Responding to the wide-spread online scepticism, Beijing police on Friday reconfirmed Li Shangjiang’s son “was ‘alleged for gang rape’, not ‘taking turns having sex'”, according to a report by The Beijing News published on its official microblog account. [Source]

China Daily, meanwhile, reports that Li’s lawyer has quit:

The lawyer for a high-profile gang rape suspect may have quit because he could not make a statement to free the accused of charges, Beijing Times reported on Thursday.

The newspaper cited an anonymous informant as saying that Xue Zhenyuan, Li Tianyi’s lawyer, quit because Meng Ge, Li’s mother, was too demanding and asked Xue to announce Li was not involved in the case.

Xue confirmed to media he had quit but declined to give a specific reason. [Source]

In 2011, Li was arrested after assaulting an elderly couple while illegally driving a BMW. His case is one of several that have recently sparked widespread outrage online at the privileges enjoyed by the children of China’s elite.