Senior official in Chinese municipality hospitalised after sleeping pill overdose

Former Tianjin spokesman comatose after taking ‘too many sleeping pills’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 3:22pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 10:45pm

A senior official in China’s northern municipality of Tianjin, who served as the city’s spokesman for the past two years, was taken to hospital in a coma after overdosing on sleeping pills on Wednesday, official media reported.

Cheng Qisheng, the secretary general of the Tianjin municipal party committee, was in a coma after taking sleeping pills but regained consciousness after emergency treatment, according to a report on, a local news portal run by the Tianjin authorities.

Cheng, 53,was able to communicate when he recovered consciousness but required further treatment in hospital, the report said, citing the municipal health department.

The report did not give reasons for Cheng’s overdose, but said he had been relying on sleeping pills for a long period of time. Cheng has not received any public denouncement or discipline.

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Cheng, 54, is a standing member in the Tianjin communist party committee.

He was promoted in 2008 from being municipal culture and heritage bureau chief, a position distant from China’s power centre, to the director of general office for the Tianjin government, one of the most powerful offices in the city. The promotion followed just months after Zhang Gaoli, now China’s vice-premier, was appointed party chief of Tianjin in 2007.

Cheng received another promotion in 2011 when he became a standing member on the local party committee and was later named secretary general. In 2015 and 2016, Cheng’s name was listed as Tianjin’s spokesman in the website of the State Information Office.

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Cheng was in the hot seat of the municipality during an explosion at a chemical product warehouse in Tianjin killed 173 people on August 12, 2015. But he did not hold any press conferences.

Tianjin is one of the most important local places to influence China’s national power play, and the city is still in political upheaval after the former acting party secretary and mayor, Huang Xingguo, was sacked and put under investigation in September last year.

The new party secretary of Tianjin, Li Hongzhong, is one of the most active voices among Chinese senior cadres to pledge loyalty to President Xi Jinping.

At a meeting with the city’s senior party cadres on February 26, Li said Xi’s ascent as “the core” of the ruling communist party is “a call of our times, a choice of history, a will of the people, and a making from practices” as well as “a realistic need for sake of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese”, according to Tianjin Daily.

Li urged the party members to be loyal to the central leadership headed by Xi and to obey instructions, saying it was “a political principal and discipline”.

In January, Li said the city’s communist party cadres should work hard to clean the “baneful influence” left by Huang, the former disgraced Tianjin chief.