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CHINESE MODEL MAY HAVE DEFECTED

One of China's top fashion models has been reported missing from a Hong Kong hotel, fueling speculation she is seeking political asylum in the British colony, a Hong Kong newspaper said Thursday.

The Chinese-language Sing Tao Wen Pao said Zhu Bei, 22, disappeared with all her luggage from her hotel room just before she was due to return to China on Monday.

The evening paper said Ms. Zhu had been seen around town on the arm of a prominent Hong Kong television actor during her nine-day visit to the colony to take part in a fashion promotion.

Sino-Hong Kong relations are only just recovering from a furor caused when Hong Kong allowed a Chinese swimmer, Yang Yang, to leave the colony for the United States last October.

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