Locals in Ningbo, China have identified a 36-year-old US citizen named Shadeed Abdul Mateen as the alleged suspect arrested in a murder case involving the horrific killing of a 23-year-old female student on June 14th. News of the incident gained national attention on June 19th after Ningbo police office announced that they had arrested a foreign suspect in the case.

According to available sources, Mateen is an African American male who apparently lived in Los Angeles County before moving to China to pursue a teaching career in 2013. His highest educational attainment is an online associate’s degree from the vocational University of Phoenix. Once in China, Mateen initially worked as a kindergarten English teacher before moving to better positions. Mateen married a Chinese woman of the Hui ethnicity and fathered one child. His most recent job position was taken as a foreign English teacher at the Ningbo University of Technology where the victim also attended school.

In multiple Facebook posts from the past few months, Mateen describes himself as being a proud black man, a devout Muslim, anti-feminist, and avid follower of Malcom X. Aside from expressing his ideological beliefs, other posts from his social media make Mateen seem like a devoted family man. What is known so far about Mateen mostly comes from information posted by the victim’s mother and colleagues of the suspect, with officials releasing very few details as of yet as is the case with most serious crime investigations in the early stages.

Nonetheless, there were reportedly reasons to be concerned about Mateen before the killing.

Multiple WeChat screenshots from the months leading up to the victim’s murder reveal that students at Ningbo University of Technology complained to instructors and staff that Mateen often acted inappropriately while teaching. Allegations include making sexual jokes in the classroom and making unwarranted sexual advances toward female students. Other claims from student WeChat groups describe Mateen’s infidelity with some students alleging that he had “two wives” and “went traveling with female students” before.

Some of these accusations of past wrongdoings cannot be immediately verified, but are being taken seriously by investigators. Nonetheless, there is now widespread speculation that Mateen had been trying to sexually pursue the female victim in the weeks leading up to the murder. Many students from the school believe this to be the case in their online testimonies.

Over the past week, China’s internet has been rocked with outrage over the killing. On China’s Twitter-like social media platform Weibo, many netizens have accused the victim’s school of not adequately screening foreign teachers and neglecting to act on prior complaints about Mateen’s alleged misconduct on campus. Many believe that the red flags were ignored. Some prominent bloggers have even gone as far as accusing the school and local Ningbo government of intentionally covering up details about the case.

Others are baffled by the suspect’s personal life, with one popular blog titled Pengyou Yuedu describing him as “being married for years, having a son who is big, and overall a man with a complete family.” Screenshots from Mateen’s social media have also been widely circulated on blogs and Chinese-language news websites, generating further disgust over the fact that a family man online turned out to be a scumbag in real life. Yet, some used his posts glorifying black masculinity as evidence for misogyny.

The case has drawn the attention of nationalists and feminists alike. Respectively, some education institutions in China are perceived as holding foreign teachers to low standards and turning a blind eye to sexual harassment by staff and students alike.

According to the Global Times, a state-owned newspaper, many Chinese netizens are concerned that Mateen will receive a lenient sentence because he is a foreigner. There is a widespread belief that the Chinese justice system is easier on foreigners, especially if they are citizens of Western countries. Many are demanding harsher punishments like the death penalty and assurance that no preferential treatment will be given to the suspect.

Additionally, some xenophobic sentiments are also being expressed due to Mateen’s race and nationality. Negative perceptions about African Americans and foreign teachers have proliferated in recent years due to incidents of black-on-Asian crime in the United States and many high-profile incidents in China involving foreign teachers engaging in sexual misconduct. Chinese immigration laws and education standards have become stricter over the years, but this has not quelled such sentiments and backlash against foreigners.

Some Weibo influencers have taken note of this trend and advocate that cases like these need not be a catalyst for hate, but rather that the focus should be on seeking justice for the victim and her family in the wake of tragedy.

As of now, few details have emerged about the 23-year-old victim. The internet seems to be respecting the privacy of her family during this time of pain and suffering.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *