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Legal and Social Buzz behind “My Dad Is Li Gang!”

Peking University, Nov. 25, 2010: The event of “Li Gang Gate” or “My dad is Li Gang!” has passed for over a month. During that time, Chinese netizens missed no opportunity to watch and follow, or weiguan, its updates. Domestic and overseas media have extensively covered, and uncovered it, such as People’s Daily, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. All in all, the topic of “second generation” attracted unprecedented attention from the whole Chinese society, as well as global interest, which “Li Gang Gate” just exemplified.


On the evening of Nov. 21, a seminar around “Chinese Laws and Society in the Context of ‘Second Generation’” was held in PKU. Three professors from Law School, School of Government, and Department of Sociology were invited to discuss the theme.



Definition of “Second Generation”

Prof. Wang Sibin from Department of Sociology proposed that the concept generated originally from the children of migrant workers from the country, who moved around following their parents, and inherited nothing but poverty from them -- but later, someone unknown came up with guanerdai, or “send generation” of an official background, and fuerdai, “second generation” out of rich families. As he noted, this expression was usually applied to condemn their ignorance of social responsibility.


“All of us are the second generation of our parents,” Prof. Bao Wanchao from School of Government noticed the universal identity of “second generation.” He then attributed the difference between Chinese erdai and other countries’ to China’s series of vast changes in the last three decades, and the following social stratification since 1985.


“‘Second generation’ issue hadn’t really gone wrong until those post-1980s and 1990s stepped onto the stage,” Prof. Ling Bin from Law School worried about the more and more severe social inequality present in our transforming country – to illustrate, the gap between the rich and poor were far wider than ordinary people could tolerate. He added the fact that descendants of leading officials and tycoons had more chances than others, which was regarded as a “reproducing process” of their future identities, full of injustice that stirred the public opinion and affected the stability.


Differences between “Second Generation” of China and the West

From the angle of their respective pursuits of equality, Prof. Bao explained these differences between China and Western countries. In his eyes, Chinese preferred equality of results and not likely to admit their own mistakes, especially when living a temporarily tough life – instead, they just complained about others’ faults and eventually about the entire society. In this way, the issue of “My dad is Li Gang!” seemed to be exaggerated.


As was known, without the peculiar concept of families in China, “second generation” could never make waves. Prof. Ling found positive factors on the nature of love within families. In his opinion, Western people were individual- rather than family-dependent, so they looked on “inheriting” privileges as a shame; and more disciplines were established to overcome every family’s selfish motives. He commented, “In my eyes, the financially disadvantaged people in China still believe the old saying ‘Hard work will pay off.’” 


Additionally, Prof. Ling pointed out the institutional defects in China. “For example, Americans choose their president with the method of general elections, while China doesn’t have a similar political system.” The top echelon, as he said, considered the laws and regulations only as “references,” without serious attention.



During the discussion, a common attitude was mentioned, “we can overlook the mistakes of ‘second poor generation’ for their poverty, but ‘second generation’ of the rich or officials are not forgivable if they do anything wrong with their power.” Apparently, the latter had been regulated publicly to be with some “original sin,” no matter how they actually behaved. So the heated event of “My dad is Li Gang!” probably had limited representativeness, and this time, the crowds were merely enjoying a feast of abreaction.



Background Info:

On the evening of Oct. 16, a car accident occurred at Hebei University, Baoding, north China’s Hebei province. A Volkswagen Magotan struck down two skating students at campus, one of who named Chen Xiaofeng died the next day, while her partner named Zhang Jingjing paralyzed. After the accident, the drunk driver, Li Qiming, escaped from the scene and continued driving to the dormitory zone to drop off his girlfriend. When arrested by the security guards, he shouted out: “Sue me if you dare. My dad is Li Gang!” Soon, a “human flesh” search revealed that Li Gang was the deputy director of the local public security bureau, while the university was under his jurisdiction.


And then, the phrase “My dad is Li Gang!” became a popular internet catchphrase all around China, frequently seen on various online forums, and used ironically in conversation by speakers trying to avoid responsibility.



Translated by: Jin Ludi

Edited by: Jacques

Source: PKU Youth