“The UK Is Not a Safe Place” – Concerns over Second Chinese Female Student Reported Missing in London

Two Chinese students have been reported missing in London within 24 hours. Yan Sihong has not been in touch with family or friends since February 16; Rong Luqi last contacted friends on February 25, saying she had been kidnapped. Chinese state media warn that the UK is not a safe place.

While concerns are growing about the disappearance of Yan Sihong (闫思宏), a Chinese PhD student at London’s King’s College, worries are also rising over another Chinese exchange student in London.

Rong Luqi (荣露琦), a student at London’s Imperial College, has also been reported missing earlier this week. She was last seen on February 25 and send out messages to a WeChat group pleading for help, saying she had been abducted.

In many reports over the two cases, there seem to be some unclarities and mixed-up facts. Some reports in Chinese suggest that it was Yan Sihong who called out for help on WeChat, although other news articles clarify that it was Rong Luqi who reached out to her friends.

Some also wrote that Yan studied Science & Engineering; but Yan is affiliated to the Lau China Institute, a multi-disciplinary centre for the study of all aspects of China which is part of the London King’s College. She is a PhD student. Rong is an undergraduate student in the field of Science & Engineering at Imperial College.

The SCMP writes that Yan Sihong was last seen on February 14, although Yan’s parents write on Weibo that they still spoke through video chat on the night of Chinese New Year on February 15, and that Yan also spoke to friends on Wechat on February 16.

In November of 2017, another Chinese exchange student named Hu Xingshuai was reported missing after he had taken a train in Edinburgh. It is still unclear what has happened to the 23-year-old Hu.

“The UK really isn’t safe”

In response to recent developments, the foreign edition of state-run newspaper People’s Daily responded with an article published on Weibo, in which they write: “Why are there repeated incidents regarding Chinese exchange students in the UK?”

For an answer to this question, they turn to a Chinese doctor who previously studied in the UK, stating that “the UK really isn’t a safe place.” The newspaper mentions the 2017 terror attacks in London and Manchester and the minimal security measures at subway stations as some examples of the UK’s weak spots when it comes to safety.

People’s Daily also writes that the fact that many Chinese overseas students are extra vulnerable in facing potentially perilous situations because they are not familiar with local culture, customs, and dangers. The newspaper suggests that many students do not understand the UK’s culturally diverse society and are not aware that some parts of town may be less safe than other areas.

Currently, the case of Yan Sihong is being investigated by London police, who have also issued a public appeal to find her. The Chinese embassy in London has not yet confirmed the case of Rong.

By Manya Koetse

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