The deaths of several officials within China’s police system, and the circumstances surrounding their deaths, have recently generated a lot of public attention.
Chinese state-run media reported the three deaths in May.
Li Qingzhou, 49, died unexpectedly in the early morning of May 13, according to a May 16 report by Beijing News. Li was head of an internal anti-corruption department at the Huaining County police department in Anqing City, Anhui Province. His official obituary said that the medications he had been taking for his liver disease had resulted in depression and ultimately, suicide.
Wang Fengxiang, who was a political commissar (a Party official who supervises political education for cadres) for the Lushan branch of the Hefei City police department, also in Anhui, allegedly committed suicide on May 22, another Beijing News report said. According to the media outlet’s obituary, Wang died in a city about 260 kilometers (162 miles) away from his home after ingesting pesticide. He allegedly left a suicide note, saying that he had been taking anti-depressants for a long time.
On May 20, Yu Siqing, director of the Chinese Communist Party committee at Zhangjiajie City police department located in Hunan Province, allegedly committed suicide at his home, Beijing News also reported. The report indicated that Yu had locked himself in one of the bedrooms inside his residence, and by the time family members broke in, Yu was already dead. They found Yu had a chisel and a suicide note beside his body. According to Beijing News, it’s believed that he used the chisel to stab himself and died from heavy bleeding.
Yu said in his suicide note that he suffered from severe pains due to some long-term illnesses. He had suffered from kidney disease for years, and had submitted a resignation letter to the police department three months ago, but it wasn’t approved.
Chinese netizens expressed their doubts about the official claim that Yu killed himself.
An ongoing political campaign targeting the country’s police system may provide some clues as to the unusual deaths.
Beijing launched its campaign to “sweep away blackness and eliminate evil” in January 2018. Authorities announced that it would be a three-year campaign to eliminate mafia and gang organizations across the country.
In reality, the campaign is focused on local officials who have provided protection to local mafia and criminal groups. In China, it’s common for officials to protect criminal groups from prosecution, in exchange for bribes.
For example, from November 2018 to April 2019, in central China’s Hubei Province, several top police officials were fired and brought to trial for offering protection to mafia, including the head of a municipal court, a top prosecutor at a municipal procuratorate, the deputy chief of a municipal Political and Legal Affairs Committee—a Party agency that oversees security agencies in a local area, and a city police chief.
Last month, the national campaign’s supervision team announced that it had begun investigations into 11 provinces, including Hunan and Anhui.
In the case of Yu, netizens speculated that parties that stand to be implicated by a corruption investigation into Yu committed foul play.
Tang Jingyuan, a U.S.-based China commentator, told the Chinese-language Epoch Times on May 30 that last year, many officials were also reported to have committed suicide, right before the “sweeping blackness” campaign was set to arrive in their locale.
Chinese officials often choose to end their lives rather than face an investigation into their wrongdoing and any subsequent punishment, he said. Additionally, Chinese authorities often attribute their deaths to “depression” to cover up the real motive.