Pure evil: the Chinese schoolteacher rapist

Some stories are too sickening to believe. Your gut instinct is to tell yourself it couldn’t have happened. This is one of those stories, so horrific it made it to the front page of today’s New York Times.

The teacher always sent a girl to buy his cigarettes. He left the class unsupervised and waited in his office. When the girl returned to class with flushed cheeks and tousled hair, the other students said nothing.

For nearly three months the teacher, Li Guang, raped 26 fourth- and fifth-grade girls in this rural village, parents and court officials say. Some girls were raped more than once as Mr. Li attacked them in a daily rotation. He was found out when a 14year-old refused to go to school for fear that the next morning would be her “turn.” She did not want to be raped a third time.

“School is where our children learn,” said Cheng Junyin, the mother of the 14-year-old. “We thought it was the safest place for them.”

It is the sort of horrific case that in many countries would be a national scandal but in China has disappeared into the muffled silence of state censorship. That silence matches the silence at the heart of the case: the fact that students considered a teacher so powerful that they did not dare speak out.

Indeed, even as the conventions of Chinese society are being shaken by the tumult of modernization, the Confucian reverence of teachers remains strong, particularly in isolated areas like this farming village in Gansu Province in western China. Parents grant teachers carte blanche, some even condoning beatings, while students are trained to honor and obey teachers, never challenge them.

“The absolute authority of teachers in schools is one of the cultural reasons that teachers are so fearless in doing what they want,” said Yang Dongping, a leading expert on China’s education system.

That’s just the beginning. Read about the ruined lives this teacher left behind, how his parents tried to hush it up and how this sort of thing happens all over the country. I don’t believe in the death penalty, but if I were one of the parents and found myself with a gun in my hand alone in a room with this teacher, I’d have a hard time keeping my finger from pulling the trigger.

The Discussion: 19 Comments

If I hadn’t spent much time viewing the Chinese educational system, this might seem hard to believe…but I have and it’s very believeable.

Sounds like he was working his way up to becoming a Catholic priest.

June 21, 2005 @ 12:15 pm | Comment

Gordon, that’s what I was thinking. It’s good to see these Men of God going to jail, where they belong.

June 21, 2005 @ 12:27 pm | Comment

cheap gag

June 21, 2005 @ 12:50 pm | Comment

KLS’s right, very inapropriate sentiments guys. Those comments are cheap, and definitely not worthy of Peking Duck’s comments.

June 21, 2005 @ 3:02 pm | Comment

Sorry, I don’t understand the “cheap gag” reference. I find what the priests did to be morally reprehensible and similar to what this teacher did, taking advantage of children. Both are worthy of condemnation. No humor and no gag intended on my part.

June 21, 2005 @ 3:27 pm | Comment

No come on Richard, Gordon said “Sounds like he was working his way up to becoming a Catholic priest” and you said that’s what you were thinking.

I thought that was a cheap joke, you say it wasn’t. and surely you’re not saying that this guy really was aiming to become a Catholic priest?

so why bring up catholic priests? just because some of them have abused children, similar to this chinese teacher? so what? plenty of lay people have done the same.

Gordon’s tarring a lot of people with a nasty brush and you’re backing him up.

June 21, 2005 @ 3:52 pm | Comment

Sorry if it sounded that way. What I meant was that when I heard the story it caused me to think about the priests. That’s what it reminded me of. I didn’t see it as a joke. Sorry if it was misunderstood.

Whether we like it or not, the Catholic priests in America have associated themselves with child molestation. It’s a tragedy, but it’s not going away. The fact that the Cardinals and bishops played along and transferred priests to new parishes instead of punishing them hurt their reputation as much as the acts themselves.

June 21, 2005 @ 4:07 pm | Comment

I guess I must be feeling particularly pious today!!

June 21, 2005 @ 4:14 pm | Comment

It’s okay. This is nothing to joke about, and I don’t think anyone meant to find any humor at all in such a revolting story.

Okay, next subject….

June 21, 2005 @ 4:19 pm | Comment

“If I hadn’t spent much time viewing the Chinese educational system, this might seem hard to believe…but I have and it’s very believeable.”

What the hell is “very believable”? Are you seriously linking the revered position of teachers in chinese society to this molestation case?

Either have another think about that one or otherwise, we’re all ears…..

June 21, 2005 @ 5:04 pm | Comment

Michael, I think Gordon was referring to the fact that the young girls did not tell their parents, but chose instead to try and find other ways to outwit the teacher. If teachers were not so revered, this might not have happened.

June 21, 2005 @ 6:10 pm | Comment


I was referring to the power that teachers in China wield over their students.

Now stop putting words in my mouth.

June 21, 2005 @ 9:23 pm | Comment

As reported, this is a really awful case, and, despite objections to the contrary, comparisons with the abuse of position by certain catholic priests (and nuns) is entirely appropriate.

On the other hand … what’s the source of this story? Has it been subject to embellisment? One of the problems with state censorship is that you’re forced to rely on information that is tainted for other reasons. I tried to look at the original story, but it wouldn’t let me in without registering. If the events, as reported are true, then put a bullet in the back of the head of that SOB. However, the teacher has not been subject to a fair hearing, nor been given the opportunity to defend himself or deny the accusations. He’s been convicted of trial by media. It’s not the same thing.

June 21, 2005 @ 10:27 pm | Comment

Having lived in Ireland and seen the legacy the Catholic church has left,I for one see nothing cheap or misleading about making a connection between Catholic priests who are allowed to sodomise children and get away with it with a couple of hail marys thrown in as recompense and such authorities here in China doing the same thing. Offended? I would suggest you ask yourself for which party you take offence- the abuser or the abused he is free to prey upon. Obviously only a minority of priests (or teachers of whom I am one or any other segment of society) molest children. BUT if you want to have it off with children who cannot stand up for themselves and have not the slightest worry of ever being punished, join the priesthood.

June 22, 2005 @ 3:26 am | Comment

The real issue is the misuse of trust. Priests, teachers, parents, etc… Gordon was simply stating a fact. If you don’t agree with facts….. Welcome to China!

June 22, 2005 @ 4:01 am | Comment

“The Vatican is taking a tough stand now, three strikes and your transferred”

June 22, 2005 @ 4:38 am | Comment

The Rape of Xinji

For nearly three months the teacher, Li Guang, allegedly raped 26 fourth- and fifth-grade girls in this rural village school.

June 22, 2005 @ 8:27 am | Comment

I’m not sure if the revered position of teachers in Chinese society is at fault here. I mean, read this article about Lawrence Lessig: did the revered position of boys’ choir instructors in American society protect this man from scrutiny?


June 23, 2005 @ 7:34 am | Comment

I’ve been thinking about this story some more, and it’s been bugging the hell out of me. I just don’t believe it’s true. It may be true that there was a teacher who forced several of his students to have sex with him … but as described, no I don’t believe it at all.

Assuming that this teacher wasn’t completely insane (a possibility, I admit), then he had to know that the moment that a single student breathed a word of what was going on, he would be dead. Now, perhaps he could think he could get away with it, if he chose his victims carefully, but the way it’s described? This kind of behaviour would only make sense if the teacher is literally suicidal. No matter what powers teachers have in China, he would know that such a secret, with so many victims, on such a regular basis, could never stay hidden for long.

On the other hand, I could see reasons why certain students or parents might make up such accusations against a teacher. They might or might not include sexual abuse of some students. But the story as reported? No way, I don’t buy it.

June 24, 2005 @ 2:27 am | Comment

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