Suicide by a Top Chinese Nuclear Power Expert

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Suicide by a Top Chinese Nuclear Power Expert
A Chinese Navy nuclear-powered submarine sails during an international fleet review to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of People’s Liberation Army Navy, on April 23, 2009. (Guang Niu/AP Photo)

According to various news outlets, a top Chinese nuclear power expert and a high-ranking Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official committed suicide for unknown reasons in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province.

Zhang Zhijian, 58, a male professor of nuclear power at Harbin Engineering University (HEU), jumped off an office building and killed himself on June 17, according to an official notice released by his employer.According to the announcement, local police declared that after investigating the scene, they had ruled out the possibility of murder. It did not, however, mention any possible causes of death.

Prior to his death, Zhang held two other notable positions: deputy principal of the university and a member of its CCP standing committee.

Zhang held a number of important academic and administrative positions 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 defence labs; chief of the Office of Development and Planning; and executive director of the Chinese Nuclear Society, according to public data.

The HEU is a military academy with strong ties to China.

It was the forerunner of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Military Institute of Engineering, which was founded in 1953 with technical assistance from the former Soviet Union. It is currently attached to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which was the predecessor to China’s Commission for Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense.

The HEU has also been approved by the US Department of Commerce. On May 23, 2020, it was added to the Entity List for its involvement in military activities and the use of weapons of mass destruction. To purchase US technology, organisations on the list will need a licence from the Department of Commerce.

Suicides among CCP officials have been reported for months.

According to Chinese state media, 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 region’s capital, on May 17. He was also a member of the Party Leadership Group for the department. He had left a suicide note, but the contents have not been revealed by local authorities.

Gao Guoliang, deputy director of the Yanshi Public Security Bureau in Luoyang, Henan Province, central China, allegedly committed suicide in his office on May 13 in a “extreme manner,” according to local authorities. They didn’t say how they were going to do it.

On April 30, Ma Hui, the director of the Heping District Public Security Bureau’s command centre in Tianjin, committed suicide by jumping from the top of the 27-story Seton Center.

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