Top Chinese Nuclear Power Expert Commits Suicide

June 19, 2021 Updated: June 20, 2021

A top Chinese nuclear power expert and high-ranking Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official committed suicide for unknown reasons in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang Province, according to a number of outlet reports.

On June 17, Zhang Zhijian, a 58-year-old male professor of nuclear power at Harbin Engineering University (HEU), jumped off an office building and killed himself, according to an official notice released by his employer. The announcement said local police declared that they had ruled out the likelihood of murder after investigating the scene, but they didn’t give a reason for the suicide.

Zhang held two other conspicuous titles prior to his death: deputy principal of the university and member of its CCP standing committee.

Public data shows that Zhang held a string of important academic and administrative offices related to his expertise, including head of the HEU’s College of Nuclear Science and Technology; director of the Nuclear Power Simulation Research Center (NPSRC), one of China’s key national defense labs; chief of the Office of Development and Planning; and an executive director of the Chinese Nuclear Society.

The HEU is an academy with strong ties to the Chinese military.

Historically, it was the predecessor to the People’s Liberation Army Military Institute of Engineering, which was founded with technical support from the former Soviet Union in 1953. Currently, it’s attached to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the predecessor of China’s Commission for Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense.

Additionally, the HEU is sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Commerce. It was listed on the Entity List on May 23, 2020, for its involvement in military activities and weapons of mass destruction. Organizations on the list are required to obtain a license from the Department of Commerce to purchase U.S. technology.

For months, there have been reports of suicides among CCP officials.

Li Xiaoqiu, deputy director of the Culture and Tourism Department of northwestern China’s Inner Mongolia region, hanged himself in a library in Hohhot city, the capital of the region, on May 17, according to China’s state media. He was also a member of the department’s Party Leadership Group. He had left a suicide note, but local authorities haven’t disclosed the content.

Gao Guoliang, deputy director of the Yanshi Public Security Bureau, Luoyang city, central China’s Henan Province, allegedly killed himself “in an extreme manner” in his office on May 13, local authorities said without elaborating.

Ma Hui, director of the command center of the Heping District Public Security Bureau, Tianjin city, jumped from the top of the 27-story Seton Center and ended his life on April 30.