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Will White House look into China's hottest cold case?
The Chinese petition for deportation of Zhu Ling case main suspect

The 19-year-old unsolved Thallium murder case, or the Zhu Ling (朱令) case, as the Chinese call it, is getting international attention once again as a Chinese American living in Florida launched a “We the People” petition on the White House website on May 3, calling for the US government to invest and deport Jasmine Sun, the main suspect in the case. (For details of the case, please refer to the video at the end of this article.)

Screenshot of the White House petition at around 4pm on May 6 when the number of signatures surpassed 100,000. Photo:

Jasmine Sun, originally known as Sun Wei (孙维), changed her name to Sun Shiyan (孙释颜) before moving to the US after obtaining a green card. In the petition, she is also accused of entering America through marriage fraud. The petition, which was launched with the aim “to protect the safety of our (the US) citizens”, claims that the Zhu Ling case was “mystically closed due to her (Sun) family's powerful political connections”.

Zhu Ling (left) and Sun Wei (right) who used to be roommates at the prestigious Tsinghua University live vastly different lives nearly 20 years after the Thallium murder case. Photo:

The news about the petition spread on China’s biggest microblogging platform Weibo on May 5, which, for some unknown reason, had been initially blocking searches for all “sensitive words” related to the Zhu Ling case. The information, which has been circulating on other popular Chinese forums such as the Tianya Forum (天涯论坛) and Baidu Post Bar (百度贴吧), finally surfaced on Weibo and quickly sparked a wave of petition signing among the Chinese netizens, taking the signature tally over the 100,000 mark within a mere three days and is still counting fast.

The renewed online outcry for justice for Zhu Ling in China was rekindled by the recent murder case in Shanghai’s Fudan University, in which the victim was poisoned to death by his roommate. The tragedy jolted the collective memory of the Zhu Ling case, which was similar to the Fudan murder in many ways. Many media, including the offficial Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily Online, published articles calling for the government to release information on the Zhu Ling case.

Reports on the Zhu Ling case on major Chinese websites. Photo:

The online campaign met unexpected censorship on May 3, exactly the same time the White House petition started. The censorship coincided with the World Press Freedom Day a day later, which happens to be the Youth Day in mainland China, commemorating the May 4 Movement in 1919 which marked the beginning of the China’s new-democratic revolution, giving rise to overwhelming angry protests from the Weibo users which could not get Sina (the operator of Weibo) to lift its censorship until late on the afternoon of May 6, soon after the White House petition signatures surpasses the 100,000 threshold.

According to the White House “We the People” petition rules, “If a petition meets the signature threshold, it will be reviewed by the Administration and we will issue a response.” With no treaty of extradition between the US and China, there is no guarantee that Sun can be deported to China as a suspect even if the US government does respond to the petition beyond issuing an on-line response. The petition serves more of a social purpose of demonstrating to the Chinese government the people’s demand for social justice and the rule of law, as many Weibo users pointed out.

This video is shared from Sina's video-sharing website

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