BEIJING -- All headlines here pointed to the make of the car in reporting on the death of two Chinese USC graduate students.
“Two Chinese students were killed in Los Angeles because of showing off their wealth in a BMW," is how one headline on a popular site, 4735.com, put it.
The students, Wu Ying and Qu Ming, both 23, were killed about 1 a.m. Wednesday in what was likely a carjacking attempt.
Luxury cars have become a political issue in China in recent years because so many officials of the ruling Communist Party and their children drive expensive models. But friends of the deceased Chinese couple came to their defense.
"I plead to all Chinese to stop the rumors about them.... Since coming to the United States, they have lived a very thrifty life, sharing apartments with roommates," wrote Deng Kaifu, who identified himself as a representative for the couple’s friends on the Chinese website renren.com.
Deng wrote that the BMW -– his friend Qu’s first car -- was a used 2003 model with 80,000 miles on it and that Qu had paid $10,000 for it.
Wu was from northeastern Jilin province and Qu from central Hunan province. Both were graduate students in electrical engineering. Qu had been driving Wu home from a late night working at the laboratory, according to Deng’s posting.
USC has more than 7,000 international students, about one third of them from China.
Although the shootings are getting major publicity in China, experts don’t expect the incident to stem the tide of Chinese students heading to the United States.
"It is a global trend that cannot be stopped," said Mike Zhou, who runs a Shanghai agency helping Chinese students apply to American universities. “Maybe a few students will decide not to come, but overall it will not make a difference.”
-- Barbara Demick
Photo: Yellow tape marks the area cordoned off as LAPD officers guard the scene at 2717 Raymond Ave. near West 27th Street, where two USC graduate students were fatally shot Wednesday. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times