Chinese express low confidence in trial of student killer, slam Chicago university, police inaction on gun crimes
Published: Dec 01, 2021 09:08 PM
President of the University of Chicago Paul Alivisatos speaks during a memorial service for Zheng Shaoxiong in Chicago, the United States, Nov 18, 2021.Photo:Xinhua

President of the University of Chicago Paul Alivisatos speaks during a memorial service for Zheng Shaoxiong in Chicago, the United States, Nov 18, 2021.Photo:Xinhua

The trial of Alton Spann, who was charged for murdering a Chinese graduate student at the University of Chicago (UC) along with other accusations, will be held on Tuesday, or Wednesday Beijing time. As the legal process could be long, the local Chinese community called for justice for the victim and also urged effective measures to protect residents and deal with the prevalence of gun crimes.

The Wednesday trial will sort out the timeline of the homicide case, according to, a news outlet serving overseas Chinese. The victim, Zheng Shaoxiong, who just received a master's degree at the university, was allegedly robbed and shot in broad daylight by the 18-year-old Spann on November 9. 

The local Chinese community expressed low confidence in the trial. A Chinese software engineer in Chicago surnamed Zhang told the Global Times that Spann will not be punished proportionately because there is no death penalty in Illinois. 

"No matter what Spann gets ultimately, it will be a long and devastating process for Zheng's mother. And she is destined to be frustrated by the result," Zhang said. 

Zheng's death is the tip of the iceberg for Chicago that has long been plagued by gun violence. Zheng is the third victim of fatal gun attack involving a UC student in the past year, media reported.  

Right before the Wednesday trial, a campus shooting took place in Detroit, Michigan, where a 15-year-old shot his three schoolmates dead and injured another eight on Tuesday. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday that several Chinese nationals have become victims of US gun violence this year. 

"The US gun crime rate tops the world and victims of such violence keep increasing, becoming one of the severest human rights problems. We urge the US government to face up to the problem, take responsible action to protect lives, including those of Chinese nationals, in the US," Wang said.  

Chicago is one of the most dangerous American cities that has long been plagued by gun violence. The Global Times learned from local Chinese that despite trying to keep safe, misfortune can find you. 

"Zheng was in the right place at the right time, but didn't escape. That's why I sought to get a license and kept a gun since I came to Chicago to work," Zhang said. 

Zhang admitted it is a vicious cycle as gun ownership cannot rein in but only aggravate gun crimes, but I had to "choose the most effective way to protect myself," Zhang said. 

UC's Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) has formed a security group to negotiate with the university to enhance protection for students. The school has extended the hours of the Lyft ride, a free ride service for students off-campus, to seven days a week except holidays until the end of the year. 

Shi Haotong, a member of the CSSA, told the Global Times the school is considering making it a long-term program, but she deemed it "far from enough." 

UC students demonstrated against the university's inaction, shouting, "We're here to learn, not to die."  

Chicago's gun crimes are the epitome of a series of chronic diseases in American society. Illegal gun ownership has never been treated as a problem seriously. The widening income gap and poverty and gang violence form a structural crime cycle, observers said.

Federal and state governments are not strong enough to solve the problems because the safety and livelihood of common people are far from the priority of the US political system and governance, they said.