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The suicide of a doctoral student

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Yang Baode 杨宝德, a Ph.D. student at Xi’an Jiaotong University, went missing on December 25, 2017. He was found dead on December 29. An internet user named @hw-欣, who claims to be a relative of Yang, wrote a post (in Chinese) on Weibo in which she says that Yang drowned himself after being mistreated by his school supervisor for many years.

The post says that Yang’s doctoral supervisor, Zhou Yun 周筠, had mistreated him, and quotes from what is apparently a suicide note: “Since I was transferred to my current supervisor, I’ve been living in profound agony every single day.”

Zhou allegedly damaged Yang’s mental health with her constant reprimands, and demanded that he perform all kinds of free labor for her, including cleaning her house, washing her car, playing mahjong with her, and being on call every day until midnight.

Neither the supervisor nor the university have responded yet to the allegations. The article mentioned above is a repost, after the original was censored from Weibo. On January 6, a banner made by Zhou’s parents appeared on the school’s campus — it reads, “Xi’an Jiaotong University, I want my son back,” and “Punish the monstrous supervisor severely, save the next Baode.”


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Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.