Apr 19, 2012|
Forget about Bo Guagua, the Chinese crown princeling lately turned into somewhat of an Oliver Twist figure following the political ouster of his powerful dad and the murder charge faced by his mum over the mysterious death of an alleged James Bond in China. Or if you are an Oxford alumnus, you have reason to worry about your personal image as the 500-year-old top-class university might soon strike a new record for having a student’s parent convicted as a criminal and executed for murder.
When a Chinese criminal case involves a western country plus the magic of money, it always spins out into a most intriguing drama that would challenge the imagination of even John le Carre or Jeffrey Archer.
Switch away for a moment from the multinational detective series, “The Adventure of Mr. Guagua.” The case of Peng Tang, a Chinese student in Iowa City in the US, also guarantees sensation. The 21-year-old was accused of sexually assaulting a female Chinese student from the same university while being shown a room for rent last month. His parents, who flew from China, were then arrested for trying to pay the victim to change her story.
This was a typical unfortunate case of cultural misunderstanding in a global world of East-meets-West multiculturalism. (Though perhaps the university should be held responsible for failing to set up a Chinese Confucian moral refreshmer course for all newly arrived Chinese overseas students, without which Peng’s bestial lust broke loose under the evil influence of Christianity.) The victim was also asking whether Peng would be “properly punished by the American government or simply be deported” (she has good reason to be worried—as a Chinese man sexually assaulting a Chinese woman in a Chinese-owned property could be seen as an internal affair between the Chinese. Even if it took place in the US consul-general in, say, Chengdu, it remains unclear whether the sex maniac would be handed over to the Chinese judiciary or face charges under US laws despite besiegement by a few dozen Chinese police cars). She also asked how much compensation from the university would be appropriate (a good question, too, for US lawyers are known for squeezing million-dollar fortunes for negligence of pavement maintenance out of municipal governments over cases of old ladies slipping on the street).
But her prayers were heard, strangely, by Peng’s parents in China. Anxious about damaging the friendship between the Chinese and the American peoples if the American side were made to compensate for their son’s crime, the Pengs flew over and brought some cash to settle the case, without the least knowledge of the mercilessness of the US legal system. Why arrest the family and waste local taxpayers’ money? Depending upon successful private negotiations of a compensatory sum, the victim would agree to be married to her assaulter and happily go home.
Chip Tsao is a best-selling author, columnist and a former producer for the BBC. His columns have also appeared in Apple Daily, Next Magazine and CUP Magazine, among others.