It started as a traffic dispute, but ended as the confrontation of the Justice System and the people.
In the evening of September 6, near the entrance of a residential community, two young men driving a BMW (with no license plate) and an Audi (plate number Jin O 00888) brutally beaten up a young couple and their 5 years old child on a traffic dispute. The duo taunted witnesses to call 110 (the Chinese system of 911). The story went online 2 days later when it was revealed one of the young men, Li Tianyi, was son of a known singer General Li Shuangjiang. General Li is a singer, but hold the rank equivalent to a three star general. In his modified BMW, there was also an M4A1 carbine and a gate tag for the Chinese Congress.
General Li soon apologized on TV, but his handling of the incident was criticized by the media, because 1) He stationed uniformed troops to the hospital to block media access to the victim. The media questioned whether that is a good use of tax payers' money; 2) Li Tianyi was released after a brief detainment by the police because he was only 15 years old. Public record showed Li was 18 this year; 3) The PLA runs numerous entertaining groups under its propaganda arm. Many of the singers hold ranks equivalent to generals; some hold military ranks. The public questions why PLA has to keep this 'tradition' of guerrilla warfare time.
The entire incident took a sharp turn when the public's attention turned to the other young man, Mr. Su Nan, who was driving an Audi with a licence tag Jin (Shanxi) O (police) 00888. The tag itself is an indication of privilege, and it always reserved to the most powerful officials. Su told the local police that he was son of Mr. Su Hao, Deputy Police Chief of Shanxi Province and Police Chief of Taiyuan (the capital city of Shanxi). When it's clear the incident has grown to a national event, Shanxi Police issued a press release that Mr. Su Hao has nothing to do with Mr. Su Nan. Mysteriously, the released was withdrawn only hours later.
Beijing based reporter Li Jianjun found Su Nan was a natural son of Su Hao. These created a serious issue for Mr. Su Hao, because according to the Family Planning Act, public officials could not have second child. By the Act, Mr. Su would be fired.
Mr. Su threatened Li that he would hire Professor Wang Jijun, the Dean of Shanxi University Law School, to file a lawsuit. Wang has a track record of heavy hand prosecution. He was named a 'Heavy Hand Hero' by the Shanxi Government in 1985. Li welcomes the move to settle the case in the court, and refused to bow down.
On September 13, a group of gangsters attacked Li's parents' house in Pingyao County of Jinzhong Prefecture of Shanxi Province. The gangsters broke into the house by force and threatened Li's wife, child and parents. After Li's family called police, Shanxi Police detained Li's father and brother.
Reporter Li's phone was tapped by police, before he realized. He called two persons, one is a manger in his previous employer, a news agency in Shanxi, the other is a contact with information of Su's unlawful involvement in controlling local coal mines. Both were harassed by police immediately after the phone conversation.
You would not see it as a nation-wide coordinated operation, while Sina (SINA @NASDAQ) and Tencent (700 @HKG), the two largest Internet providers in China, removed Li's accounts, and wiped all of his blogs and tweets at the same time. It is a sign that the order must have been handed down from much higher levels than provincial police.