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Illinois to hold candlelight vigil for missing Chinese scholar

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-09-15 17:27

A photo of Zhang Yingying released by the police. [Provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The University of Illinois will host a candlelight vigil on Sunday to mark the 100th day since visiting Chinese scholar Zhang Yingying was last seen.

Zhang, 26, went to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to study agriculture in April. She was reported missing on June 9 while on her way to renew a rental contract.

On June 30, the FBI announced Brendt Christensen, 28, a student in physics major also at UIUC, as a suspect for kidnapping Zhang and arrested him. The trail is scheduled to start on Feb 27. The evidence referred that Zhang is presumed dead, but she has not been found yet.

According to local newspaper The News Gazette, the vigil will begin at 6:30 pm on the quad side of the Illini Union and the event's Facebook page wrote: "In Chinese culture, 100 days after a tragedy is a day for family and friends to pay tribute."

Bruce Rauner, governor of Illinois, who is visiting Shanghai, said: "My heart goes along with the family, it breaks my heart."

The governor said it is a very unusual and isolated case and people should be concerned, but "that's one bad person did one bad, evil thing. The university is very safe."

Edward Seidel, vice-president for Economic Development and Innovation of UIUC, said: "We were all devastated by this incident - not only the (victim's) family but the entire community - but we are working hard on addressing it."

According to Seidel, the university has been supporting the victim's family in many ways over the past months, while setting up a foundation to support other students who may come to the university and cooperating with professionals to improve orientation for international students to ensure their safety in a foreign country.

The university is home to the largest number of Chinese students among the top 50 universities according to the US News ranking. In 2015, the number stood at around 5,000.

He Qi in Shaghai contributed to this story.

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