Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Son of Chinese 'singing general' sentenced to 10 years for gang rape

By Peter Shadbolt, CNN
updated 3:31 AM EDT, Thu September 26, 2013
The BMW reportedly driven by Li Tianyi, the son of a Chinese army general, pictured after a 2011 road rage incident
The BMW reportedly driven by Li Tianyi, the son of a Chinese army general, pictured after a 2011 road rage incident
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Li Tianyi, 17, sentenced to 10 years in high-profile gang rape case
  • His four co-defendants received sentences ranging from 3 to 12 years
  • The son of a People's Liberation Army (PLA) celebrity known as the "singing general"
  • Case unleashed public outrage at behavior of China's "princelings"

Hong Kong (CNN) -- A Beijing court sentenced Li Tianyi, the son of a famous Chinese "singing general" in the People's Liberation Army, to 10 years in jail on Thursday over a gang rape that unleashed public outrage at the behavior of China's "princelings," or children of the political elite.

The Haidian People's Court sentenced Li, 17, and four other defendants to jail terms ranging from three to 12 years over the gang rape of a woman in a hotel room in February. Li, also known as Li Guanfeng, denied the charges, telling the court he was drunk and could recall little of the night in question.

He denied beating or having sex with the woman despite his four co-accused issuing guilty pleas by the trial's end, state media reported.

Lawyers for the accused argued in pre-trial hearings that the woman was a prostitute, and the matter should be tried as a prostitution matter, rather than a rape case. In handing down the verdict, the court said the evidence was "adequate" to uphold the rape charges.

Users on Chinese social media applauded the verdict, hailing it as a victory of justice over the infamous "taizidang," or "princelings," who are widely regarded as spoiled and corrupt.

Dead UK businessman and the 'princeling'
See guy freak out after missing flight

"The bastard is finally charged. God finally works," wrote a user called @Jiaxinglantianxiadezhiai on the popular Chinese micro-blogging service Sina Weibo.

However, others doubted that he would serve out his full sentence.

"After people stop closely watching this case, he will get out of jail immediately. It's always easy as long as you have money," posted one user called @Miya-Qiu.

Li -- the son of a PLA celebrity officer known as the "singing general" for his televised renditions of patriotic anthems -- previously made headlines in 2011 when he attacked a family in a road rage incident, threatened bystanders and dared them to call police.

The incident provoked an outcry when it came to light that he had 36 prior traffic violations for driving without a license. He was subsequently sent to a juvenile detention center for a year, and his father issued a public apology.

Li's mother Meng Ge, who is also a celebrity singer in the PLA, also came under under fire on social media after she blamed society for her son's behavior.

Public opinion has been mounting against the so-called princelings since an incident in 2010, when the drunk-driving 22-year-old son of a deputy provincial police chief fatally ran over a student and shouted: "Sue me if you dare! My father is Li Gang!" The phrase has since become synonymous with nepotism and corruption in China.

President Xi Jinping has launched a high-profile anti-corruption campaign in response to public discontent with corrupt officials, publicly rebuking PLA musicians following a series of embarrassing reports detailing their privileged lifestyles and exposing incidents of commercial exploitation of their positions.

The dressing down was accompanied by new measures, signed off by Xi and detailed in the PLA Daily, the official organ of China's armed forces, designed to curb the excesses of military musical troupes.

Xi's wife, the noted soprano Peng Liyuan, herself served in a PLA performance troupe.

CNN's Feng Ke contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
See CNN's complete coverage on China.
updated 3:12 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
updated 10:30 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
updated 5:11 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Is Xi Jinping a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
updated 2:31 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
updated 12:14 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
Hong Kong's narrow streets were once a dazzling gallery of neon, where banks and even bordellos plied their trade under sizzling tubular signs.
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
updated 7:59 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
Three more officials have been given the chop as part of China's anti-corruption drive, including former aides to the retired security chief.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
As thousands of Hong Kongers prepare for an annual protest, voices in China's press warn pro-democracy activism is a bad idea.
updated 12:37 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Hong Kongers are demanding the right to directly elect their next leader, setting up a face-off with Beijing.
updated 2:56 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
updated 4:36 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
updated 11:34 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
updated 7:47 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Anna Coren visits Yulin's annual dog meat festival. Dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone.
updated 2:38 AM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
People know little about sex, but are having plenty of it. We take a look at the ramifications of a lack of sex education in China.
updated 4:12 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Hong Kongers have reacted angrily to a Chinese government white paper affirming Beijing's control over the territory.
The emphasis on national glory -- rather than purely personal achievement -- is key.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
A replica of the Effel Tower in Tianducheng, a luxury real estate development located in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province.
What's the Eiffel Tower doing in China? Replica towns of the world's most famous monuments spring up all over China.
updated 8:13 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Rapid development hasn't just boosted the economy -- it has opened up vast swathes of the country, says a man who has spent much of his life exploring it.
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
The World Cup is apparently making a lot of people "ill" in China.
ADVERTISEMENT