This is the question I plan to ask in this week’s piece. Why? well more often than not, when news stories talk about international students, it is always negative or it is about the mystery surrounding their deaths. As the bulk of international students are form Asia, namely, from China across the West and Europe, it is a concern that these young, ambitious hopefuls are having their safety jeopardized. Now talking about this specifically, doesn’t mean we should only be concerned about Chinese deaths or of Chinese students, because deaths of any person, specifically Asian or POC is never good news. However, considering, the ever growing number and dominance of Chinese students studying abroad, I think it is acceptable and valid to focus on this as a topic. Before I share some of my thoughts on this concerning issue, here are some of the cases of deaths or abuse/assault which have made global news headlines, over the last 2 – 3 years involving Chinese students. 

1. Former Chinese International Student Found Dead In Bathtub In A New York Apartment

I literally just posted about this a few hours ago. 22 year old Chinese student graduate, Ying Huang was found dead in a bathtub in an upscale apartment in New York. Bruises was also found on her when her body was discovered. Her former boyfriend has been questioned, but he has not been charged with anything. This is an ongoing investigation, but definitely foul play is involved. 

2. Man Who Shot Chinese Student To Death During Carjacking At University Of Utah Receives A Life Sentence

23 year old Chen Wei Guo was shot to death  in a carjacking incident which happened on campus at the University of Utah. No one wants to mention it, but we know that there are elements of racial targeting. And because Chen was an international student he would have been perceived as being “rich”, and hence ripe for carjackers.

The guy who shot him is 24 year old Austin Boutain, and he will now spend the rest of his life in prison. 

3. The kidnapping of Ying Ying Zhang ( her body has never been found)

This has been shrouded in mystery, with the kidnapping of Ying Ying Zhang from the University of Illinois, by Brendt Christensen. As yet, she has not been found, even with the FBI doing a full scale search for her. She is presumed dead. From research the court case against Christensen is still going on, but he does face the death penalty. 

4. German Couple Who Brutally Raped And Murdered A Chinese Student Finally Jailed

A young German couple (both 21) lured 25 year old architecture student Li Yangjie whilst she was jogging. They raped her severely to the point that they thought she had died. They left her in an empty apartment and returned later to find that she was still alive, so they ended up murdering her and discarding her lifeless body in some bushes.

The killer couple really only got like 15 years jail for what they did. Sickening indeed. 

5. Chinese Business Owner And Students Physically Attacked In Australia Again

A Chinese Australian business owner and Chinese international students in Wollongong ( 2 hours drive south of Sydney) have been physically attacked by 2 local men ( who happen to be white men – no surprises there). They had weapons like knives and threatened death as well as threatened to rape one of the Chinese female students.

From research the police have pretty much given up on finding the pieces of shit who did this. 

6. Body Of Chinese PhD Student Found Dead In London Whilst Another (Unrelated) Is Still Missing

 35-year-old student from Shenyang named Yan Sihong’s body is believed to be found deceased by police in a Westminster property. Where her identity has not been fully confirmed, it is believed that the body belongs to the 35 year old who went missing around 2 weeks ago.

Chinese student Rong Luqi has also been reported missing in London. Both Yan and Rong are not related in any way and this is a separate case of another Chinese female student missing. Rong was studying at London’s Imperial College. She was last seen on Sunday and alarm bells are rang when she sent a message to a WeChat group to her friends that she had been abducted and asked her friends to contact the police.

No current news on these 2 cases. 

7. Chinese International Student Living In The UK Beaten To Death By Her British Boyfriend

24 year old Masters student Xixi Bi was killed by her boyfriend, 24 year old Jordan Matthews in Cardiff, Wales in August 2016. Bi’s death was caused by Matthews beating her black and blue and she was pronounced dead due to cardiac arrest. Paramedics told the court that she was found laying on the floor on her back and she wasn’t breathing.

Matthews has been jailed for life. But really he should die for what he did in my opinion. 

8. Chinese Female Student Zhang Yao Died By Being Hit By A Train In Rome In Pursuit Of Her Muggers

Aspiring fashion designer, 20 year old Zhang Yao was fatally hit by a train whilst in pursuit of muggers who snatched her bag. She had just left the Police centre in Rome to renew her residency permit, and I would say in my opinion this is one of the primary reasons for her being so adamantly in pursuit of her muggers.

Again, no news as to wtf happened with the muggers and what charges they face or have faced….

9. MURDERED Chinese International Student Michelle Leng stabbed 20 times in the Neck and Dumped in the Ocean

From 2016 – 17 this was a major focus for me, because it happened in Oz, my backyard. And it happens that her uncle by marriage (27 year old Derek Barrett) was the murderer, who raped and tortured her then killed her.

Michelle Leng, a 25 year old Chinese international student studying in Sydney, was found dead in the ocean on Sunday 24th April. She had been stabbed approximately 20 times at the back of the neck and was found naked with no jewelry or identification on herself.

Barrett will be in jail for life, but again I personally think he doesn’t deserve to live. 

10. 2 Chinese Sisters Missing In Japan Found Brutally Murdered

This is not the West or Europe, but it still needs to be noted. 25-year-old Chen Baolan and 22-year-old Chen Baozhen and they were noted as missing on July 6, 2017.

Their bodies were recently found stuffed in suitcases, and it was stated that they were strangled to death. The suitcases with their remains were found dumped at a remote mountainous forest near Tokyo.

The murderer has been charged and will be in jail for 23 years to life – though I think he should die also… 

11. Chinese Australian Woman Told To “GET OUT OF AUSTRALIA” And Then Punched In The Face

The victim who is named Lina contacted Chinese media outlet Sydney Today to talk about her harrowing and frightening racist experience in near a mall in Burwood. This happened in early February (2017), where Lina was waiting at a traffic light (near the mall) when a random man (white guy – as the report stated Caucasian man) shouted at her to:

“Get out of my country”

Lina allegedly walked away, but this racist white guy stopped her and punched her in the face, then left her bleeding and bruised in the face.

Not much has been said in the news about this since.


Okay, so that is 11 news headlines over the past 2 years and I have actually selected the more serious ones. There are many minor cases of racial abuse and assault which I didn’t add in, and all that makes you wonder, how many cases are left unreported? I am finding it more and more common for Chinese students to be the focus of targeted attacks and I always question why. One reason that pops up in my head is on the sinophobia which is out there about Mainland China, and many people mesh being Chinese with the actions of the Chinese Government as one monolith. This has caused a lot of angst for local Chinese people outside of China, but also to Chinese international students. 

What can be done? I am pretty sure I have stated in past posts, that we as overseas Chinese and Asians have a role to play in engaging with Asian international students. I do feel we have that responsibility to support them if we have the capacity to do so. Many live in bubbles where they are unaware of certain dangers or they have a romanticized view of the country they are studying in. The reality is in the West and Europe, most of us are not treated as equals and are subject to racism and discrimination. This really needs to stop and I do feel more engagement will spread this message to them before or when they arrive in their nominated country to study in. I will leave my points here, but I definitely have more to say on this topic.