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Rachel Lu

Does Bribery = Chinese Culture? One Iowa County Attorney Thinks So

A parent’s love knows no bounds. But to keep a son out of jail by trying to bribe the victim of the son’s sexual assault? Is that a part of Chinese culture? 

As reported on Iowa City Patch, county attorney in Iowa recently dropped charges of “aggravated misdemeanor for witness tampering” against the parents of Peng Tang, a 21 year-old Chinese student in Iowa who is charged with sexually assaulting a woman who was showing him an apartment. Tang’s parents flew to the U.S. after his arrest, and allegedly tried to ask the victim to change her story by offering her money.

In dropping the charge against Tang’s parents, the county attorney cited “cultural differences.” But is bribery really a part of Chinese culture? @Lolowen does not think so, tweeting ”I feel insulted” {{1}}[[1]] 我感觉被侮辱了.[[1]] on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter.

Many Weibo users echoed the sentiment. @春秋不白 tweets, “So ironic. What a ‘cultural difference.’ I want to die from shame and anger.” {{2}}[[2]]真讽刺,好一个文化差异.羞愤欲死[[2]] @陈诗琪suki also questions this notion, ”Cultural difference? We are losing face across the Pacific. So bribery is Chinese culture.” {{3}}[[3]] 文化差异?丢脸丢到大洋彼岸去啦。。。原来贿赂是中国文化。。。[[3]] @Y如墨 puts it in more graphic terms, “The phrase ‘cultural difference’ is like a hard slap on Chinese people’s faces.” {{4}}[[4]]一句文化差异,狠狠煽了中国人的脸[[4]]

Yet there is a wrinkle. The Iowa Gazette reports that, despite the bribery attempt, Tang’s parents have no income. @汀汀小亭 tweets, “They seem to be these extremely frugal parents who saved everything to help send their spoiled pervert of a son to the U.S. for school.” {{5}}[[5]]一看就是省吃俭用,送宠坏了的宝贝变态儿子到美国念书的父母 [[5]]

A county attorney in Iowa dropped charges against Peng Tang's parents, who allegedly tried to bribe a victim of sexual assault

Others, however, sympathize with Tang’s parents. @毛_春燕 chides their critics, ”Parents protecting children is the Way of Nature. How does that offend you so-called patriots who smoke foreign cigarettes, drive foreign cars, drink foreign wines and speak foreign languages?” {{6}}[[6]]父母护犊、天之道存、怎么就惹了你们这些抽洋烟、开洋车、喝洋酒、说洋语的爱国主义的所谓人士[[6]] 

Peng Tang belongs to the Post-90′s generation of Chinese youth, who are often seen as spoiled and self-centered as they grew up as only children in relative prosperity with doting parents and grandparents. @XqsMe tweets, “Actually I agree it’s a ‘cultural difference,’ because in China, most parents would do the same when something happens to their children. When everyone does it, it is a culture.” {{7}}[[7]]我倒是认同“文化差异”说,因为在中国,大多数的父母面对孩子出事都会这么做,而大家都这么做的时候,就是一种文化了~ [[7]]

Lawyer Shen Bin, however, sought an explanation for the Tangs’ behavior in the current state of the Chinese justice system. In a well thought-out essay [Link in Chinese], Shen introduced China’s system of combining civil and criminal suits in criminal cases, which often means that victims end up with little or no statutory compensation.

Shen wrote, “regular sexual assault cases have little ‘direct losses’ compared to cases involving fatalities, and standard statutory compensation mandated by Chinese courts is very low. And because China has such a system that combines criminal and civil suits and sets extremely low statutory compensations, there is a lot of room for negotiations between victims and perpetrators that give rise to the notions of ‘buying off death sentences with money’ and ‘monetary compensation in lieu of jail sentences.’” {{8}}[[8]]普通的强奸案更是没有多少“直接损失”,能得到的法定赔偿更低。也正是因为中国有这么一个法定赔偿标准极低的刑事附带民事诉讼制度,所以被害人与凶手之间、在赔偿与量刑之间,有巨大的“博弈空间”,衍生出花钱买命、赔钱减刑等等问题。[[8]]

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Rachel Lu

Rachel Lu is a co-founder of Tea Leaf Nation. Rachel traces her ancestry to Southern China. She spent much of her childhood memorizing Chinese poetry. After long stints in New York, New Haven and Cambridge, she has returned to China to bear witness to its great transformation. She is currently based in China.
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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CRVLESGPXDMYUBMKYX4YOA6NB4 HaroldW

    There are several things going on that are hard to understand unless someone has spent a lot of time in China.  Bribery, corruption, and treating people like trash are most definetly part of everyday life here.  The parents behavior was very typical.  Is it possible that his parents were really indigent?   Sure… anything is possible.  But is is very unlikely, especially now that we see he has managed to hire new lawyers.  The scorn that was heaped on them by the Chinese community is because the story, and their actions, follow an all too familiar pattern.

    The real problem with all of this is the shadow it casts on the Chinese students who seek to come to the U.S.  What has happened here is an extremely unusual thing.  The vast majority of Chinese students are some of the hardest working people you will ever meet.  So much of what is learned in the U.S. is brought back to China when they return, and it serves a real purpose in raising standards here in terms of expectations.

    It is hard to say how this will turn out.  But for sure this clown has ruined his family’s reputation and the chances for his parents to have lived any type of a happy life as they grow old.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CRVLESGPXDMYUBMKYX4YOA6NB4 HaroldW

    There are several things going on that are hard to understand unless someone has spent a lot of time in China.  Bribery, corruption, and treating people like trash are most definetly part of everyday life here.  The parents behavior was very typical.  Is it possible that his parents were really indigent?   Sure… anything is possible.  But is is very unlikely, especially now that we see he has managed to hire new lawyers.  The scorn that was heaped on them by the Chinese community is because the story, and their actions, follow an all too familiar pattern.

    The real problem with all of this is the shadow it casts on the Chinese students who seek to come to the U.S.  What has happened here is an extremely unusual thing.  The vast majority of Chinese students are some of the hardest working people you will ever meet.  So much of what is learned in the U.S. is brought back to China when they return, and it serves a real purpose in raising standards here in terms of expectations.

    It is hard to say how this will turn out.  But for sure this clown has ruined his family’s reputation and the chances for his parents to have lived any type of a happy life as they grow old.

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