Li Jianxin has spent a lot of time in popular online forums exposing corruption of Chinese Communist Party officials, by posting pictures of their ill-gotten luxury items for the rest of China’s watchdog Internet to see. Earlier this month Li was attacked by a group of men, seemingly for his vigilante efforts.
According to a report by the Daily Telegraph, 47-year-old Li was hospitalized for severe injuries after being blinded with acid and attacked with knives. The attack occurred after his vehicle was rammed from behind and three men took him to a remote industrial park in the southern Chinese city of Huizhou. He was lying in a pool of his own blood when a woman who lived nearby discovered his body. He lost two fingers in the attack and will need a new eye.
Li’s younger brother, Li Jianghuang, told the Telegraph that he believes Li’s involvement in reporting on a local prominent family, many of whom hold government positions, led to the attack. “My brother [who operated online under the pseudonym "Uncle Ou of Huiyang"] reported more than 10 cases relating to this family,” he said earlier this week. Li’s reports shed light on the bribery and abuses of power of the group, embarrassing the family. “They got their jobs through connections and bribery but are in fact extremely incompetent,” Li’s brother said.
Though Li is now in stable condition, his family is not hopeful that justice will be served against the three attackers. “The pressure from the local government is enormous because the influence of that family is huge. My only wish is to see my brother recover.” Li is awaiting surgery that will give him a fake eye as well as a skin graft for the injuries sustained from being doused in acid.
As China’s President Xi Jinping continues to encourage the crackdown on official corruption, many whistle-blowers still find themselves quieted, through either censorship or physical harm, by local-level enforcement and those who wish to keep problems quiet. This in turn creates a counterproductive cycle of generating even more corruption.