Soccer Commentator to Voice of the People: Li Chengpeng

Soccer Commentator to Voice of the People: Li Chengpeng

The Telegraph’s Tom Phillips profiles soccer- turned social commentator Li Chengpeng:

On Thursday, he faced down a threat from Beijing police. “As a figure, you need to be responsible for what you say and do,” the police warned him, publicly. “Shall I wait for you at home, or shall I turn myself in?” he responded.

It was the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, one of the worst natural disasters in China’s , that changed Mr Li from a football-mad sports addict into a serious social critic.

[…] “Before [the earthquake], I loved football, rock , beer… and writing love stories every now and then. I wanted a comfortable and happy life,” he said.

“[But] when you see several thousand lives vanish before your eyes it changes you in a big way. I now have a much greater battlefield to face.” [Source]

Li’s blog has received over 342 million visits, while his Sina Weibo account has over 7.4 million followers. His comments about the recent bloodshed in Kunming led to this week’s run-in with the Beijing police, who accused him of “ignoring facts” and “mistaking the black for the white.”

Li’s anger at the substandard “tofu construction” he saw in Sichuan resurfaced following a 2012 bridge collapse in Harbin, but he showed a more optimistic side after the heavy Beijing floods that summer. See also a speech on freedom of expression he gave to Beijing University students that November, coverage of his tumultuous subsequent book tour, a more recent essay on Taiwan, and more on Li, via CDT.

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