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Outspoken Critic Attacked at Book Promotion in China

On January 13, 2013 at a promotion event in Beijing for his book the Whole World Knows, 45-year-old Li Chengpeng, an outspoken critic and former soccer columnist, was slapped on the face by a man who said he was disgusted by the content of Li’s book.

The assailant, reportedly a former lawyer from China’s eastern Shangdong province, called Li a traitor. Close to the end of the book promotion, Li also dodged a knife wrapped in red paper hurled by a man. The two attackers were later detained by police.

Li's book promotion tour has been dogged by controversy. We reported earlier this week that he had been silenced from speaking at another book promotion event.

Hailed by many as someone not afraid of speaking his mind, he is also nicknamed “Li big eyes”, and is followed by some 6 million fans on Weibo [zh]. He uses his sarcastic wit to expose China's social problems. His scathing articles and outspoken speeches have won him a large fan base, as well as a lot of decriers.

A screenshot of Li Chengpeng on a TV show from youku

A screenshot of Li Chengpeng on a TV show from youku

The Global Times editor-in-chief showed his support for Li's new book [zh]:

胡锡进:@李承鹏新书在京签售火爆,这是中国多元化的又一标志性场面。当局需要接受多元化的现实,全社会应当把握好多元化的节奏和力度,使它真正成为国家前进的正能量。谁都别天然以为这种平衡不可能,这是中国走向未来的唯一之路。否则中国或者走向动荡,或者回到过去。

胡锡进[zh]:The popularity of the new book signing is another symbolic scene of China’s diversification. The government needs to accept the diversification as a reality, there should be a proper degree and pace of diversification in the whole society so it could be a positive force driving the country forward. Don’t assume the balance couldn’t
be achieved, this is the only road for China to move ahead, or else China would be heading for turbulence or moving backwards.

One netizen expressed his liking of the book:

寰球同此凉热:今天看了李承鹏的《全世界人民都知道》自序,很给力,看来环境是越来越宽松了,这样的环境肯定预示着某种变革。

寰球同此凉热[zh]: I read Li Chengpeng's preface of The whole world knows it, it was awesome, it looks like the environment has become much more free, this kind of environment definitely indicates certain reforms.

Many netizens vented their anger over the attack. Actor Wang Xiaoshan tweeted to his 1 million plus fans:

@王小山:今@李承鹏 签售连发暴力袭击,令人震惊。谨呼吁,无论观点如何,抗议应该理性。谩骂已然过分,动手更是不该。读书、辩论皆为明理,惟盼国之进步。无论如何,大家将继续共存同一天空下。公民之间,因观念不同而诉诸武力,长此以往,各方都将陷万劫不复之境。慎之,慎之!

王小山[zh]:Several violent attacks occurred at Li Chengpeng’s book signing. It was shocking. I want to appeal that whatever your viewpoints are, protest should be rational. Verbal abuse has already gone too far, initiating physical attacks shouldn’t have happened at all. Reading and debate are for a better understanding of truth so that the country can advance. In any event, we all live under the same sky. By resorting to violence because of different opinions, we will all be trapped in an eternal doomed fate if this trend continues. Be cautious, be cautious!

悠悠小天使: @李承鹏 竟然被打了,打人者竟然还是山东人!可气!前两天,还跟悠悠讲来着:有一个眼睛比你还大的叔叔叫大眼,文章写的特别好,妈妈很喜欢看他写的东西。。。替我鄙视打人者!!

悠悠小天使[zh]: Li Chengpeng was beaten up, the attacker turned out to be from Shangdong! That was annoying!I said the other day: There is an uncle whose eyes are bigger than yours, he writes good articles, mommy loves to read his stuff…Please denounce the attacker for me!!

Criticism of Li also could be found online:

简评828:李承鹏本来是个不错的足球记者,野心让他现在走火入魔了

简评828[zh]: Li Chengpeng was a pretty good soccer journalist, his wild ambition has made him take the wrong road.

是思思妹儿不是死死妹儿:李承鹏到底是怎么成足球流氓混成公知的?

是思思妹儿不是死死妹儿[zh]:How could Li Chengpeng go from a soccer hooligan to public intellectual?

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