Info Emerges on Boston Bomb Victim Lü Lingzi

More information has emerged regarding the Chinese national and Boston University graduate student who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday and mourned widely by her compatriots on weibo. For the New Yorker, Jiayang Fan reports on the 23-year-old Shenyang native’s identity, background, and final moments in the U.S., and also provides an account of her recent weibo activity and a roundup of social media reactions to her death:

[...]Yesterday [Tuesday] evening, the Chinese Consulate finally confirmed the identity of the third fatality: a Chinese national in her mid-twenties, who was attending graduate school at Boston University and majoring in statistics.

[...]Lu Lingzi was a native of Shenyang, a city in northeastern China about a hundred miles from the North Korean border. She attended Shenyang Northeastern High School, from which she graduated in 2008. She did well enough there to land a spot at the Beijing Institute of Technology, where she pursued a bachelor’s degree in international economics. In Boston, she had hoped to obtain her master’s.

On Monday afternoon, Lu joined the marathon-watchers with two other overseas Chinese friends, partaking in one of their first and more cacophonous of American traditions. Exploration seemed like a welcome pastime. On her Weibo photo album, Lu had already posted some of her favorite foreign forays: blueberry waffles, Godiva dark chocolate, a CD cover of an Itzhak Perlman violin concerto.

Near the finish line, the three girls may have stopped, craning their necks, immobile in a sea of flush, anxious faces. The sheer energy and anticipation, not two months after the Chinese Spring Festival, might have even reminded the recent émigrés of another holiday season, celebrated an ocean away.[...]

Fox News has more on Lü’s early life, family background, and educational career, noting her outstanding academic performance and social involvement while at BU:

Back home in the Chinese city of Shenyang — where residents are still bundled in heavy coats to fend off chilly temperatures and strong winds — Lu’s family home is an apartment on the grounds of a Communist Party training academy where her grandfather was a professor, neighbors said.

[...]Lu went to a nearby primary school before being admitted to a highly selective experimental public facility, Northeast Yucai School, where she studied from seventh through 12th grade. About 100 of the 600 graduates annually go to study abroad in countries including Australia, Singapore, Japan, France, Britain and the United States, and the rest usually go to top universities, often in Beijing. Local media say Lu scored the second highest in her class to go to Beijing Institute of Technology.

“It is such a pity. She was an excellent student and she got a chance to study abroad but didn’t finish her study,” Shenyang resident Zhang Zhuang said in an interview. “It is such a sad story. Her parents must be heartbroken.”

Lü’s parents, who were issued U.S. visas today, are indeed heartbroken by the tragic loss of their only daughter, as can be seen in a public statement that they released on the Boston University website. In a report connecting Lü’s story to ongoing policy-related news topics, the Wall Street Journal suggests that the one-child policy, and the solidarity of a nation living under it, may explain why the sentiment surrounding Lü’s death is resonating so far in China:

Mr. Lu’s death resonates with many in China because of its one-child policy, which was implemented in 1980 to slow China’s soaring population growth. As a result, many households put their hopes, dreams and fears behind their only child. Said one post on China’s Sina Weibo microblogging service widely repeated online: “An only child is the lifeblood of a family!”

Many parents rely on their children for care-taking and social security as they age, making losses such as Ms. Lu’s often painful both emotionally and economically, said Wang Feng, a population expert and director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy in Beijing.

“With losses of only children, highlighted by cases like this, and those from other kinds of attention-getting tragedies, hundreds of millions of Chinese parents with only one child inevitably think about what they would do should such an utterly unfortunate thing happen to them,” Mr. Wang said.

As Chinese netizens light digital candles remembering a lost compatriot, Boston residents are mourning the unexpected atrocity. At an interfaith memorial service in Boston yesterday, President Barack Obama expressed the collective grief of the United States. In his speech, he extended his condolences directly to the Lü family, and to  all those affected by the bombing. From the New York Times:

Our prayers are with the Lu family of China, who sent their daughter, Lingzi, to BU so that she could experience all this city has to offer. She was a 23-year-old student, far from home. And in the heartache of her family and friends on both sides of a great ocean, we’re reminded of the humanity that we all share.

BU Today reports that a memorial scholarship fund will be established in Lü’s name:

“It’s a fitting tribute and the right thing to do,” says Kenneth Feld (SMG’70), a BU trustee who proposed the memorial scholarship Wednesday at a meeting of the executive committee of the Campaign for BU, which he chairs. Before the meeting adjourned, its seven members had committed $560,000 to the fund, created in accordance with the preferences of the LU family, who will be traveling to Boston this week from their home in Shenyang, China.

[...]“The scholarship fund will welcome all contributions, says Feld. “Every one has real meaning.”

For more on Lü Lingzi’s death at the Boston Marathon and how the Chinese microblog community reacted to it, see prior CDT coverage, or click through to read the full stories quoted above.