Xu Yean, deputy chief of petitions office, found hanged in Beijing office

Xu Yean, a senior official of the bureau that handles public grievances, hangs himself at work as graft probe widens at agency

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 April, 2014, 4:38am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 April, 2014, 4:38am

A top official with the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, which handles petitions, committed suicide in his Beijing office, mainland media reported.

Xu Yean, 58, a deputy head of the bureau, was found hanging on Tuesday morning, Caixin Online reported. He was the second high-ranking official to take his own life in the past few weeks. Caixin, quoting sources close to the bureau, said Xu had chronic health problems, suffered from tinnitus, an auditory condition, and appeared depressed in recent months.

The bureau was not available for comment.

A native of central Hubei, where he graduated from university in 1982, Xu worked in the provincial branch of the bureau for decades before relocating to Beijing in 2005. He became the bureau's deputy head in 2011.

Everybody is in the same boat ... Someone in Xu's position is not immune
Source referring to Xu Yean

Xu last appeared in public in an official capacity on March 11, when he took part in a meeting between the bureau's head, Su Xiaoqin and Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government liaison's office in Hong Kong. He also reportedly took part in a staff meeting at the bureau on March 17.

The bureau is primarily responsible for accepting citizens' petitions. Petitioners have long complained about the bureau's inefficiency and claim it colludes with law enforcement authorities to detain and deport petitioners back to their home provinces.

It is alleged local government officials routinely bribed bureau officials to get petitions against them removed from its files.

The Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) disclosed on its website in November that Xu Jie, another deputy head with the bureau, had been "placed under investigation for serious violations of party discipline" - a phrase that usually refers to graft.

A source close to the CCDI said the petition bureau was being investigated and Xu Yean was probably implicated too.

"Everybody is in the same boat," said the source, referring to potential targets in the ongoing corruption crackdown. "Someone in Xu's position is not immune."

Xu's suicide comes a few weeks after Li Wufeng, a deputy director with the State Council Information Office, jumped to his death from his Beijing office on March 24. Li's death has not been officially acknowledged.

The anti-corruption campaign launched by President Xi Jinping has placed officials under added scrutiny.

Zhou Yu, a senior police official in Chongqing once hailed as a hero of the crackdown launched by the municipal's former party boss, Bo Xilai, on organised crime, was found hanging in a hotel room last Friday.

Local police said an initial investigation revealed Zhou was depressed and in poor health.

Most recently, an official in Fenghua, Zhejiang province, killed himself on Wednesday morning after an apartment building in his administrative district collapsed on April 4, killing at least one resident and injuring several others, local police said.