A top Chinese nuclear power expert and also a high-ranking Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official committed suicide for unknown reasons in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province, based on a variety of outlet reports.
On June 17, Zhang Zhijian, male, 58, professor of nuclear power at the Harbin Engineering University (HEU), jumped off of an office building and killed himself, according to an official notice released by his employer. The announcement said local police declared they had ruled out the likelihood of murder after investigating the scene. However, it did not mention any possible cause of death.
Zhang had two other conspicuous titles before his death: the deputy principal of the university and a member of its CCP standing committee.
Public data shows 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 of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Military Institute of Engineering, which was founded with technical support from the former Soviet Union in 1953. Currently, it is 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 will need 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, hung 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 have not disclosed the content.
Gao Guoliang, deputy director of the Yanshi Public Security Bureau, Luoyang city, central China’s Henan province, killed himself allegedly “in an extreme manner” in his office on May 13, according to local authorities. They did not specify what the manner was.
Ma Hui, director of the command center of the Heping District Public Security Bureau, Tianjin city, jumped from the top of the 27-storey Seton Center and ended his life, on April 30.
BY FRANK YUE