A poisoning case that permanently paralyzed a former Tsinghua University student has triggered an online petition on the White House's website, the newest development to a matter that has remained unsolved for 19 years so far.
Zhu Ling, the victim and then chemistry major, suffered severe brain damage after being allegedly poisoned by thallium in 1994 by her roommate, Sun Wei, or Jasmine Sun, who now lives in the US.
The petition claims Sun "had the motive and access to the deadly chemical" and asks for Sun to be investigated and deported.
As of late Sunday, the petition had received some 52,000 signatures after it was created on Friday. If the number of signatures reaches 100,000 by June 2, the Obama administration will review the petition and issue a response.
For years, Sun has been speculated as being responsible but formal charges have never been handed down.
The statement came after many netizens have pointed out that the case was mysteriously shelved after years of investigation by Beijing police due to the political connections owned by Sun's family. Sun was also found to have changed her name and allegedly entered the US by marriage fraud in the 1990s.
The number of signatures is growing rapidly, with an average of 100 people signing every minute.
Yin Weijia, a game designer who signed the petition, told the Global Times that he was happy the public were able to speak out. "The savage ways of blocking the source of information and obstructing justice should be gone."
However, the official Sina Weibo account of Help Zhu Ling Foundation, a Los Angeles-based fund collecting donations for Zhu and her family, issued a statement Sunday saying that the petition is plagued with factual errors and is "hasty."
"Foreign political intervention might impede the solving of the case," said the foundation, established by a former medical student at the University of California Los Angeles who helped treat Zhu after she was poisoned.
"Zhu's former lawyer once mentioned that her mother was concerned about foreign media reporting on the case, so the parents are not likely to endorse the White House petition," the foundation said.
Discussions about the petition and the victim are strictly limited on China's blogosphere. A post about the petition, published by a popular Weibo account, was removed Sunday. Searches for "Zhu Ling," "Sun Wei" and the chemical "thallium" on Weibo appear to be blocked.
The cold case re-surfaced after Huang Yang, a graduate student from Shanghai-based Fudan University, was poisoned to death in April by a chemical allegedly put by his roommate inside Huang's water dispenser.
Editorial: Presumption of guilt stirs more questions