The drunk driver in the hit-and-run case has been given to a six-year sentence recently, though his father was “Li Gang.” He confessed in court last Wednesday that he caused the girl’s death according to China Daily. The case can be seen as reflection of corruption problem or the flawed “rule of law” in China, however on the other side, I marvel at the power of Chinese grassroots netizens in supervising authorities.
The 23-year-old Li Qiming shouted “Sue me if you dare, my dad is Li Gang” after he hit two girls in a college, leaving one dead and one injured last October in Hebei Province, southwest to Beijing. His dad “Li Gang” is deputy chief of a local police bureau. This case has quickly fueled public outrage online. The statement “My dad is Li Gang” has been used in thousands of sarcastic ways by Chinese netizens. It has come to symbolize rampant abuse of power among the families of officials. Under the pressure of public opinion, Chinese media and authority paid special attention to the case. In my viewpoint, it was the high exposure in both media and online coverage that ensured transparency of this case to a great extent and ultimately the final judgment.
In recent years, Chinese netizens have been involved and actively pushed the progress of many cases. A recent case is the “mystery” of Qian Yunhui’s death. People doubted whether Qian, the protesters’ leader, died in an accident, as it appears to be, or he was murdered by the authority who wanted him to be quite forever. Such doubt and debate followed local villagers’ disclosure online according to China Real Time Report. Recently, Qian’s watch that he wore during the accident has been found. It has a micro-recorder built in and will provide a crucial clue for solving this case. Chinese netizens have gradually solidified into a “pressure group,” which monitors government officials’ practices and endeavors to protect public interest. They not only argued on the Internet and called on people and media’s attention, but some also went to the spot, reporting, detecting by themsleves, expressing their anger by means of performance arts, etc.
I interviewed the famous blogger Zola who first reported the whole case of “the toughest nail house” in 2007. Zola called himself “citizen journalist.” He told me that the Internet has empowered ordinary people to get to know what they should know but have not yet.