March 16, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A woman who was arrested in Flushing Monday following the fatal stabbing of a well-known Tiananmen Square activist turned immigration lawyer has been charged with murder.
Xiao Ning Zhang, 25, was charged at Queens Criminal Court Wednesday for allegedly stabbing attorney Jim Li to death inside his law firm at 136-56 39th Ave., according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Zhang, of Kissena Boulevard in Flushing, faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of killing the 66-year-old attorney, who was a leader in the student democracy movement at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and a prominent pro-Chinese-democracy activist.
According to the charges, Zhang showed up at Li’s fourth-floor office Monday shortly before noon and got into a heated argument with him.
The dispute escalated before Zhang, who had two knives in her possession, allegedly stabbed him in the neck, shoulders and torso. She was still in the office when responding police arrived on the scene and her clothes were stained with blood, prosecutors said.
Li was transported by EMS to NYC Health and Hospitals/Elmhurst but could not be saved.
According to multiple reports, the stabbing stemmed from a previous argument that took place at the law firm on Friday. Zhang allegedly caused a ruckus at the office after Li refused to take up an asylum case for her.
The office called the police Friday but she then ran away only to return Monday and confront Li.
Zhang came to the U.S. in August from China on an F-1 student visa to study in Los Angeles but did not attend and instead traveled to New York to claim asylum, the New York Daily News reported.
Her asylum was based on her claim that she was raped by police in China who sent her to a mental facility and that her life was in danger if she were forced to return home.
Li was a renowned attorney who lived in Great Neck.
He was jailed by the Chinese government in 1989 for 22 months for participating in the Tiananmen Square demonstrations which resulted in the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of protesters.
Li came to the U.S. after his release seeking asylum and remained a pro-democracy activist, often helping Chinese people who had been persecuted by the Chinese government, according to reports.
Meanwhile, Katz said the stabbing was a senseless slaying.
“Violence is never the solution to any dispute,” Katz said. “Now a man is dead and a community grieving this tragic loss.”
Zhang was ordered back to court Friday. She also faces a weapons possession charge.