Suicide haunts China crackdown

BEIJING BODY COUNT::The CCP launched a trial against the third independent anti-graft activist this week, as a beaureaucrat was found dead in his office


Fri, Apr 11, 2014 - Page 1

A senior Chinese official reportedly killed himself in his Beijing office this week, media said yesterday, in the latest suicide of a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cadre.

Xu Yean (徐業安) was deputy chief of China’s State Bureau for Letters and Calls, the agency that fields grievances from citizens over such perceived injustices or disputes as illegal land seizures or alleged police misconduct.

According to the respected magazine Caixin, Xu was discovered to have killed himself in his office on Tuesday morning, although the details surrounding his death remain unclear.

The 58-year-old Xu had been deputy chief of the bureau since 2011. Under a system dating from imperial times, Chinese people can “petition” government authorities at various levels.

Millions do so each year, but many complain of official indifference to their concerns.

Xu’s death comes after the CCP mouthpiece the People’s Daily reported on its English-language Twitter feed that Li Wufeng (李伍峰), deputy director of China’s government information department, “fell to death.”

“The cause is unknown,” it added, without elaborating.

Caixin also reported on Li’s death, although a posting on its Web site was soon deleted.

Separately, a third Chinese anti-corruption campaigner went on trial in Beijing yesterday, his lawyer said, joining two others who appeared in court this week as China’s government cracks down on activists.

Zhao Changqing (趙常青), 45, faces a possible five-year prison sentence for allegedly supporting activists who unveiled banners in Beijing calling for Chinese government officials to disclose their assets — despite not being present, his lawyer Zhang Peihong (張培鴻) said.

Zhao is associated with China’s New Citizens Movement (新公民運動), a loose-knit network of campaigners against corruption, among other issues.

China jailed a founder of the movement in January, and more than 10 other members have been tried.

“[Zhao] didn’t disturb public order in any way; he didn’t even appear on the scene of the protests, because he was worried about his family,” Zhang said, adding that the hearing lasted about three hours.

Fellow anti-graft activists Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜) and Li Wei (李蔚) were also put on trial this week over the protests.

Zhao was previously jailed for his role as a leader during the 1989 pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square and has served more than eight years in jail for his continued political campaigning.