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Disappearance of Chinese Scholar in US Raises Safety Concerns


By Michael Huang

The recent disappearance of a visiting Chinese scholar who had arrived in the United States just weeks earlier has concerns across China about the safety of studying in the U.S.

Yingying Zhang, 26, was last seen on the main campus of the University of Illinois on June 9. The FBI described the case as an abduction.

Yingying Zhang went missing from the Univ. of Illinois on June 9.
Yingying Zhang went missing from the Univ. of Illinois on June 9.


Surveillance footage showed the young woman getting into a black car minutes after stepping off of a bus while on her way to sign a lease for an apartment in the Champaign-Urbana area of east central Illinois. The Federal Bureau of Investigations said it has located the car, and that agents are following up on several possible leads.

“We realize that this has been a source of anxiety for our entire campus community,” Jeff Christensen, chief of the university's police force, has said. “We continue to make progress in our search, and we will not give up until we find her.”

Zhang’s father has come to Illinois from Nanping, China, to aid in the search. The family has offered a reward of up to $40,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case, in addition to a $10,000 reward offered by the FBI.

In China, news of the disappearance has led to fierce discussions on the safety of studying in the U.S. Message boards and chatrooms filled with conversations where doubts were raised about whether U.S. law enforcement can keep Chinese international students safe.

More than 300,000 Chinese study in the United States, more students than from any other nation.

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