Behind the Li Gang Case:
- Part 1: Chen Family Forced to Drop Suit (this post)
- Part 2: Family Goes Silent, Legal Rumblings
- Part 3: “A Sleepless Night in Xiaofeng’s Home”
You would have to be living under a rock to not know about the “My dad is Li Gang” case at this point. But it hasn’t been in the news much recently, thanks to a gag order to the media from the Propaganda Department and an alleged resolution of the dispute between Li Gang’s family and Chen Xiaofeng’s family (Chen Xiaofeng is the name of the girl Li Gang’s son killed).
The “resolution” was suspicious for many reasons. First, the Chen family, which had hired a good lawyer and been publicizing the case the media, suddenly disappeared. After two days, they fired their lawyer and it was announced that the case had been resolved amicably, but they wouldn’t speak to any media. Was there foul play involved? Unsurprisingly, the answer is yes. Wang Keqin, China’s foremost investigative reporter, and his student Feng Jun did some digging and Wang has written a lengthy post on his blog that reveals what happened behind the closed doors of the Chen family’s mysterious disappearance and sudden reconciliation with Li Gang.
Wang Keqin’s post is quite long and very detailed. This is the first part of our translation, which covers the period from when the Chen family “went missing” to a few days after they signed the agreement with Li Gang and buried their daughter’s body.
On November 4th, the Chen family’s lawyers and the media lost contact with them, and soon afterward, they had reached an agreement with Li Gang, but what went on behind the scenes hasn’t been made public. I became the first reporter to get involved, continually following this case. On November 11th, my student Feng Jun took a special trip to Chen Xiaofeng’s hometown in Xinji, Shijiazhuang, to meet with him (Chen Xiaofeng’s father) and understand what happened behind the scenes. The story below is what we sorted out and wrote into an article, but because of some unchangeable reasons ((i.e., the “Ministry of Truth”‘s ban on all Li Gang-case related reporting)), it has not been made public [until now].
Two days ago, we received word that the Chen family has already received the full 450,000 RMB compensation, and Chen Lin [Chen Xiaofeng’s brother] has found a new job in Shijiazhuang. In accordance with an agreement we made earlier with the Chens, we can now make this information public.
“Missing-gate” and the Dismissal of the Lawyers
Because he chose to take this case, laywer Zhang Kai suffered heavy pressure [from people who wanted him to drop it]. On the night of November 1st, he was called into a meeting with his firm and it was requested that he drop the case. “The director [of the firm] had received a warning from the Beijing Justice Department, when they asked me [to drop the case] I was on the verge of tears.”
Then, two days after the “battle for the autopsy,” on November 4th, Zhang Kai suddenly lost contact with the Chen family. Chen Lin’s phone had been turned off, and Chen Guangqian’s phone kept ringing but no one answered. Occasionally, someone would pick up, say “You’ve called the wrong number,” and then quickly hang up again. We [the reporters] were also unable to reach the Chen family.
After losing contact with lawyers, reporters, and the outside world, on Nov. 5 Chen Guangqian suddenly sent a telegram to Zhang Kai that read: “I want to thank you on behalf of the family. Our issue has been resolved.” As for how it has been resolved, Mr. Chen suggested it was “not convenient to go into that.” A half hour later, Zhang Kai was informed by his law firm that the family had come to the firm and annulled their contract.
After the Chen family “disappeared”, there was no way to be sure what had happened and many netizens became worried. My student Feng Jun conducted an investigation on Nov. 8 and discovered that the Chen’s had already checked out of their hotel on Nov. 5. He quickly went to the Hebei University PR department, hoping to ask about the family’s whereabouts, but he could not get a straight answer out of the worker there, Han Junwu, who would only say: “the school is keeping in contact with the family.”
Then, he got in touch with [the police officer in charge of the case] who told him that the case had already entered the judicial process, and she no longer had any jurisdiction.
On November 11, Feng Jun went to Chen Xiaofeng home [in Shijiazhuang], and because of this, the shocking “reconciliation gate” became public. A few minutes after he got there, the village head and Party secretary showed up at the Chen home, saying a villager had called to report they saw a cab in the village. In the kitchen, they asked Chen Guangqian (the father) who the person who had come was. Mr. Chen said it was a classmate of Chen Lin’s who had just come to visit, and the village head and Party secretary left.
Shortly after lunch, Chen Guangqian and Chen Lin described the process of their reconciliation with Li Gang for Feng Jun.
As early as November 1st, the police had formally inquired as to whether the Chen family would “agree to resolve the case via financial compensation; if you agree just say a number, don’t miss this opportunity.” But the Chens, especially Chen Lin, remained opposed and wanted it to be pursued as a criminal case against public safety, while at the same time preparing a civil suit for financial compensation.
But on November 5th, police officials, a cadre from Chen Xiaofeng’s hometown, and the village head came to [the Chen’s hotel], and told Chen’s father: “The central government has already sent down a memo saying this issue must be resolved immediately, and the provincial government has also pointed out that the issue cannot be allowed to get bigger demands that it be quickly resolved.”
The village head warned Mr. Chen, this isn’t a traffic accident anymore, it’s a political incident, and said that if they accepted any further media interviews that would be “anti-Party and anti-government”.
The village head also said: “You got Zhang Kai as your lawyer, but Li Gang hired Zhang Kai’s teacher to be his lawyer; is there any way you could win this lawsuit?”
The Chen family was then forced to sign a compensation agreement, and “weren’t permitted to accept media interviews, make contact with the outside world, or reveal anything.”
The agreement stated that Li Gang would compensate the Chen family with funds totaling 460,000 RMB […] during the process of making the agreement, Li Gang never showed his face; the copy of the agreement that Mr. Chen signed had obviously been signed by Li Gang some time ago and sent off to have the Chen family sign.
To prevent the Chen family from contacting the outside world, the money wasn’t given to the Chen family when they signed the agreement; instead it was held by [a nearby government bureau], to be given to the Chen family once things had cooled down.
Chen Guangqian told Feng Jun helplessly: “It was one layer of pressure after another, they were all relying on the organization to resolve things.” “Being country folk, we just want to go back to our old life, regardless of whether we have more or less money, that’s just how things are.”
After they signed the compensation agreement, they signed the agreement dismissing Zhang Kai as their lawyer. “In one morning at the hotel we signed several agreements. It was all very fast, we weren’t allowed [to take time] to consider things; that afternoon we were taken home,” said Chen Guangqian.
That afternoon, Baoding city police and Xinji government workers took the agreements to Zhang Kai’s legal firml Cheng Guangqian did not got himself [as Zhang Kai had been led to believe].
“If we didn’t agree to compensation who knows what would have happened with anything, for example, the autopsy had already been done by provincial experts, and if we agreed to sign it would be easier for them and so they would let us take the body home,” Chen Guangqian said.
The Baoding police agreed the Chen family request to take the body home rather than cremating it. On noon Nov. 5, Chen Xiaofeng’s mother Zhang Fang was forced to leave the hospital where she was being treated [PLA 252nd Hospital].
On the afternoon of November 5th, the three Chens and Chen Xiaofeng’s body were taken back to their Shijiazhuang home by Baoding police; Hebei University also sent along two teachers.
Shortly after they got home, Chen Xiaofeng was “married” to a local boy who had died recently, and on the 7th, her body was buried.