The “official suicide wave” sweeping across China claimed yet another victim this week. Chen Beifeng, deputy mayor of Weifang city in Shandong province, is the 24th senior official to kill himself within the last 18 months. Between 1 January 2013 and now, 55 cadres have died “irregular deaths,” of which nearly half were self-induced.
Chinese news sources have stated that Chen suffered from a history of depression, but his is merely the latest in a long string of suicides that have occurred in tandem with Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-corruption crusade. Chen and the other dead are assumed to be corrupt officials who faced exposure and trial.
Some have suggested that the fallen are no more than scapegoats, relatively unknown officials offing themselves (voluntarily or perhaps under coercion) to spare others from the repercussions of legal responsibility, be they family, friends, colleagues or even superiors.
There has been little sympathy online for the deaths of these officials, whose suicides netizens regard as an admission of guilt. “All of the corrupt officials dying would be beautiful,” says one comment, and another agrees “they got what they deserved.”
By Ryan Kilpatrick
[Image via CRIEnglish]