Recently, the “My Dad is Li Gang” incident has been white hot on the Chinese internet. The short version: a drunk rich kid plowed an expensive car into two pedestrians on the campus of Hebei University and tried to drive away — twice — without even stopping to see how they were. One student was killed in the accident, and another seriously injured. When accosted by guards, the kid cried arrogantly, “Sue me if you dare, my Dad is Li Gang.” Li Gang is a high-level police official.
The scandal has drawn attention, again, to the privilege and wealth associated with government officialdom. Li Qiming, the son, has already been arrested — and done some public weeping on CCTV — but the anger and attention has brought to light several other issues. Li Gang, it turns out, owns five houses, and his son was driving a remarkably expensive car, and netizens are enraged at yet another example of official corruption and arrogance.
The Hebei University president, too, has been implicated in a scandal that would never have come to national attention if it weren’t for Li Qiming’s murderous drunk driving. Netizens have uncovered that he’s suspected of having plagiarized 27,000 characters of his thesis. The following is a translation from Wang Keqin’s blog, with occasional commentary interspersed from us.
As early as March of this year, a netizen called “Truth Seeker” posted on the website Xinyusi that large parts of the seventh chapter of Hebei University Party Secretary and President Wang Hongrui’s Ph.D thesis were identical to content from a Master’s thesis written by Yanshan University Electrical Engineering student Wu Jianzhen.
Apparently, at the time, no one was particularly interested, and the story was not picked up by major media outlets. But then…
Yesterday, a reporter from the Morning News borrowed the two thesis from the National Library. After carefully examining them, the reporter discovered that there was indeed a high degree of similarity between Wu Jianzhen’s third and fourth chapters and Wang Hongrui’s seventh chapter, and that many paragraphs were completely identical.
Additionally, the reporter also discovered that Wang Hongrui had been the assistant advisor for Wu Jianzhen’s Master’s thesis. Wu Jianzhen completed his thesis and defense in August of 2001; Wang Hongrui finished his thesis and became a Ph.D in October of 2002, so there’s a one year and two months’ difference between when the two graduated.
From later in the article:
Wang Hongrui’s Ph.D thesis is 123 pages in total, with Chapter 7 spanning pages 92-121 and subdivided into six sections. In total, it contains about 29,000 characters. Aside from a few headings and summaries at the end of sections (270 characters in section 7.1, 300 in section 7.2, 120 in section 7.6 and 1000 at the end of the chapter) that did not appear in Wu Jianzhen’s thesis, about 90% of the content (approximately 27,000 characters) is essentially the same as Wang Jianzhen’s chapters 3 and 4. Most paragraphs are exactly the same, and most of the changes that do exist are just added transition words like “because of this…”, “we know that…” etc.
Of course, this isn’t the first instance of university officials being guilty of plagiarism that China has ever seen. But perhaps it’s instructive to note that whenever a specific place comes under this kind of scrutiny, little corruption scandals seem to pop up everywhere. Right now, Li Gang’s family and Hebei University are feeling the heat. The anger in the air over the accident, the arrogance, and the corruption is quite palpable. Whether that anger will translate into any kind of justice remains to be seen.
More on the “My Dad is Li Gang” and plagiarism scandals on ESWN.