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"It could've been any of us" | "我们的共同写照"


Hundreds of Chinese international students gathered on USC campus yesterday evening to hold a candlelight vigil for Wu Ying and Qu Ming, the two Chinese students tragically killed near campus the night before. Walking through the crowd and watching all the young and familiar faces around me, I couldn’t help feeling a deep connection with the deceased victims and everyone standing in the crowd. Really, it could’ve been any of us.

Tragic stories always come unexpectedly. I found out about the murders yesterday morning when I logged onto Renren, the Chinese equivalent of Facebook. My news feed was inundated with anxious inquiries about the identities of the victims, outraged comments about LAPD and the campus Department of Public Safety’s inability to enforce security around campus, and most predominantly, an overwhelming grief that was wrenching the heart of all Chinese students. Names of the victims weren’t released yet at that time, but I did not need to know their names to feel the grief and indignation. We had already been knit together with the same identity from the day we set foot on this continent thousands of miles away from home, leaving behind the same memories and people so dear to us. I picked up my cell phone and typed a message to my Dad: “I’m okay. Don’t worry.” It was 2 am back home.

One sentiment that pervades the student community is the deep condolence towards the victims’ parents. No matter how the media and skewed public opinion depict Chinese parents' ready willingness to spoil their children with designer clothes and luxury cars, or their tiger-mom-style ambition to “control” their children’s life path, we know for sure that Chinese parents pour their life into their only child. As much as they want their children to receive the best education abroad, sending their only child across the Pacific is an internally conflicting idea for them. Luckily for me, I was able to have my parents visit me a couple times over the past few years. But for many Chinese international students, their parents might have never set foot in America and do not have the slightest idea of what their life is like here. Most of them are too busy working back home to afford their kid’s expensive tuition. A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine excitedly told me that her parents had visited her during Chinese New Year. “It’s good that they came,” she said. “Now they finally know what my life is like here. They used to be really worried.”

Tragically, Wu Ying appears to have missed her last chance to taste the sweetness of home three months ago. Wu Ying’s friend Jia Silu told me that she planned to go home last Christmas but had to defer her flight which was later cancelled. The victims’ parents will soon be on their way to finally see where their children laughed, studied and lived. I could only imagine what it is like for the parents who sent their children off with hope a year ago only to receive such news that crushes all dreams. It breaks my heart to imagine my parents going through it.

However, mainstream media seems to have taken no sympathy toward the tragedy, misleadingly portraying the victims as wealthy Chinese graduate students killed in their new “luxury BMW” worth $60,000. A blog post in LA Weekly, which cited from another source that the car was worth $45,000, even commented that if the Chinese students were indeed killed from a carjacking attempt, “that would pretty much be the ultimate depiction of wealthy USC at odds with the ghetto on which it sits.”

Such indifferent and critical tones stunned my eyes. Words are circulating in the Chinese student community that Qu Ming was in fact driving an old second-hand BMW that was worth far, far less than reported. But even if it was a new BMW, it does not justify this horrible act of violence. “We urge the media not to betray professional ethics,” said a family friend of Wu Ying who was invited to speak at the vigil. “I want all media professionals here to put your hand on your heart and promise that you will report the story truthfully.”

Indeed, the wild stereotype of the spoiled wealthy second generation of Chinese student is unfair to any of us. Being international students, we left our parents and friends in search of an opportunity to better ourselves and become successful global citizens. We study, play, enjoy life as hard as anybody else does, but carry heavier burdens on our shoulders. More than often, we fret over the chance of getting a work visa to put everything we’ve learnt to use; we feel guilty for having our parents work so hard back home to afford our tuition in American dollars; And when we get home sick, we take a few friends who’ve already become our family to San Gabriel Valley to get a taste of home. We feel the loss so deeply because we all share the same experiences.

At this moment, the Chinese Student Association and Chinese Students and Scholars Association are working very hard together to try to make the neighborhood a safer place. “We are going to have a board meeting with other student organizations next week to talk about the next step,” said CSSA’s president Peter Wang. “This is not just about Chinese students. It concerns the safety of everyone at USC. We want everyone to have stronger awareness about safety issues.”

After the vigil, students lingered around to talk. As the crowd dispersed I started to see quite a number of non-Chinese students who came with hearts full of compassion. They told me that it had been a tragic loss no matter where the students came from. Yes, the tragedy should ring a bell for all including school officials, LAPD, all students and the media. Action should not go out with the candle light. The victims have passed away but the living ones need to find a better way.

May the deceased rest in peace.




悲剧总是不期而至。我是在事发当天早晨登入人人网时获知这起枪杀案的。人人网上充斥着焦虑,大家不约而同地询问着被害同学的消息,并且悲愤地表达着对洛杉矶警局和学校公众安全部门无力确保校园周边安全的不满。而流露得最多的还是来自中国留学生对这两条年轻生命的惋惜和悲伤。虽然当时被害人的名字还未公布,但心中的愤慨和悲伤已经无法压抑。从远离家乡一起踏上这片土地的那一刻起,同为留学生的我们已经彼此紧密相连。相似的记忆和经历此时此刻更是让我们心连着心。想到这里,我不禁感到远在中国的我的父母读到这条消息该是如何的焦虑。于是我赶快拿起手机给爸爸发了一条消息:”我很好,别担心。” 那时是北京时间凌晨两点。



然而,主流媒体对此事的报道却让人心寒。他们误导性地描绘:“富有的中国研究生在他们价值六万美元的全新豪华宝马车中被杀。”一篇LA WEEKLY的博文引用另一个消息来源说他们驾驶的宝马价值四万五千美元,更评论道,如果这两个中国学生是因被劫车而杀,“那将是富家子弟云集的南加大的一幅终极写照。”

如此冷漠的和带有批评性的报道让我震惊了。在中国留学生间传递的信息与之截然相反:瞿铭驾驶的是一辆远远低于报道价值的陈旧的二手宝马车。然而, 撇开报道是否属实,令人不能理解的是,即便瞿铭驾驶的是一辆全新的宝马车,当两条鲜活无辜的年轻生命被残暴地夺去时,媒体为何要将焦点放在他们驾驶的车上?一位被邀请在烛光守夜活动中发言的吴颖的亲友说道:“我们强烈要求媒体不要背弃职业理念。我要求这里的媒体职业人士把你们的手放在你们的胸口承诺你们将真实地报道这个案子。”

事实上,大众对中国留学生都是“富二代”的印象对我们任何一个人都是不公平的。 作为国际学生,我们为了寻找一个更好的机会来完善自己,离开了熟悉的家,离开了亲戚和朋友,希望有朝一日能变成一名国际性的人才。我们和所有人一样,努力的学习,尽情的享受青春和生活,同时背负着自己的重担。我们总会时不时的担心毕业以后拿不到工作签证学以致用,我们总会想到父母为了负担昂贵的学费辛苦工作而愧疚,每次想家,我们只能结伴去圣盖博的中餐馆尝尝久违的家的味道。正是因为经历如此的相似,我们对于吴颖和瞿铭的死如此的心痛。




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6 thoughts on “"It could've been any of us" | "我们的共同写照"”

  1. I do think that the most important thing is to get the killer. If the LAPD or USC police can not get it solved, it will frighten many many Los Angles residents.

    For a common sense, to kill others thru a car window ( if that is the case, it was rainy,the glass was broken…) is cold blood.

    At the Dodger Stadium, another tragedy was solved!everybody who is around, please help to solve this to let the justice prevail!

  2. I had checked more Chinese newspapers, the boy’s name is Qu, Ming — not Zhai, Ming.
    The boy’s name is right in this Article. Sorry.

  3. As the father of a college boy and an F-1 Visa engineering student in the 80s, I am moved by this story. I can not find the right words to say at the moment except for the sad feelings but at the same time the kind hearts I can see here makes me feel the warmth and the caring from the society I love.
    I found some more information about the two Chinese students from the Chinese newspapers.

    2012-04-12 20:09:31 广州日报 (Guangzhou Daily)
    Two 23-year-old Chinese students, lovers

    Incident: two students in a car were shot by a robber. The girl died in the car. The boy was rushed to a nearby residence for help after he was shot and also died after.

    They were both graduate students of University of Southern California, Electronic Engineering.

    Zhai, Ming, the boy killed, came from Jilin Province. This April 12th would have been his 24th birthday. Since elementary school, he had been 1st place for all the subjects he studied until he went to the university. He had arranged to work in China at a company with an internship offer and had booked a trip to China 20 days later.

    The murdered girl Wu, Ying, from Changde City, Hunan Province, had been an outstanding student since she was small. HH Her father retired in 1999 from the military police, and her mother is a retired worker at Changde City Cotton and Linen Company.

    The education expenses for the daughter of the military policeman was borrowed.

    She came from an ordinary family. In May of this year, she would have graduated and be back home.

  4. 这学期由于即将毕业,为找工作需要,翟铭才花了1万美元在二手车行买了一辆二手宝马轿车。
    Because Ming Zhai was about to graduate this semester and needed to find a job, he spent only $10,000 to buy the used 2003 BMW.

    ******Here is a link to Guangzhou Daily:


    It is in simplified Chinese.
    By the way, the boy’s name is Zhai, Ming. Thank you Mingshi for your excellent article.

  5. Claudia Melendez

    My condolences go out to the family and all the people who feel personally touched by this incident. Nobody deserves to die violently, no matter their race or nationality.

    I’d like to offer two cautionary tales, though. One to Mingshi Di and one to reporters everywhere. Mingshi, when you write the “media” unfairly portrayed the victims, maybe you’re referring to people who “post comments” in these sites. I’ve seen stories written about the crimes committed at USC, and no outlet has tried to portray the victims as “spoiled Chinese children.” That may be the work of Facebook or anonymous posters, but they’re not the “media.” They’re disrespectful, perhaps ignorant people who don’t know better.

    My second cautionary tale is to reporters. How can a story say the BMW was worth $60K if the car was used and old? Could it be that the writer was relying on police sources? If so, how can a reporter be more careful when handling this information? Perhaps by asking the year and model of the car?

  6. Just wanted to say, great article. It was well written, heartfelt and I’m glad it pointed out some of the stereotypes that are being expressed in the media. It’s a sad day when college students cannot travel to and from their homes in peace, without the fear of being attack or robbed.

    It’s a small consolation, but I feel that Justice will be served in the end.