Zhu Ling Poisoning Case Linked with Former Chinese Leader

Created: 2013-05-13 18:48 EST

Category: China > China Focus

A 20-year-old poisoning case is making headlines in China. Zhu Ling was an accomplished, promising chemistry student at Tsinghua University, known as China’s MIT. Then in 1994, when Zhu was 19, she developed a mysterious illness, including hair loss, failing eyesight, and paralysis. Desperate, her friends used an early version of the Internet to contact doctors overseas. The diagnosis: poisoning by thallium, a toxic heavy metal that’s often used in rat poison. Zhu managed to survive the poison, but she’s now nearly blind, paralyzed and mentally disabled. And 19 years later, her case remains unsolved.

The main suspect was Zhu’s college roommate, Sun Wei. She was questioned by police and had access to thallium, but was released and never charged. She’s believed to have changed her name and moved to the US. People believe that it was Sun’s family connections that kept her out of trouble. Her grandfather Sun Yueqi was a high-ranking official and was connected to former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, and her father’s cousin was once vice-mayor of Beijing. Zhu Ling’s case is well known in China, but why is it suddenly coming up now? And how is it related to the power struggles within China’s top leadership?