A Death Note Reveals Nasty Situations in a Chinese University

  • Mao left an informative death note before committing suicide.
  • Internet users hope Mao's death will help Chengdu University.
  • Local officials refuse to comment on the case directly.

On October 15 Mao Hongtao posted for the first time on Wechat Moments. Families and colleagues tried to reach him after seeing the post, but his phone was already turned off. On the same day, local police got involved and the news trended on Weibo. The next day his body was found in Jiang’an River, close to his house in Chengdu. Police concluded it was a suicide. Mao was the Party Committee Secretary (PCS) of Chengdu University, a mayor-level official according to the current civil service hierarchy in China.

Wang Qingyuan, current president of Chengdu University.

In his post, Mao said he was depressed and desperate due to a wrong career choice. During the past year, he suffered both psychologically and physically. He explicitly mentioned how Wang Qingyuan, current president of Chengdu University, had kicked away three PCSs through vicious political sabotages and establishing cliques. He charged Wang with stealing money from public funds and putting the university’s future at stake with a chaotic administration and nepotism. Feeling sorry for those who had believed in him, he decided to use his death to help Chengdu University get rid of Wang and his gang.

According to his curriculum on Chengdu University, Mao was one of the best professors of accounting in China before becoming a politician, with over 100 publications on major academic journals.

Chengdu University posted condolences for Mao.

Just on Zhihu, related posts have received over 100 million views. Many students and colleagues posted their personal experiences with Mao, all stating how nice he was with everyone and that they had very high hopes of him when he was appointed as the PCS of Chengdu University.

The tragedy is the result of a lifetime scholar being placed among real politicians. Some mention that the attitude of the state-run press on this case is promising. Several national newspapers have covered Mao’s death and commented, which wouldn’t happen if the government has decided to censor it.

Local government announced to investigate the case.

Universities in China follow the system of President Responsibility under the Leadership of Party Committee, which means Mao and his three predecessors were supposed to be the actual leader of Chengdu University, not Wang.

Internet users suggest that if what Mao posted is true, then it’s no longer just a dispute between the president and the PCS. It would scale up to a matter of organizational discipline, which is a much severer problem in China. Journalists report that officials from Chengdu University and from Chengdu Education Bureau have been rejecting their interview requests.

At 22:35 on October 16, Sichuan Province Government announced that a special team with members from multiple departments has been set up to fully investigate the case.

One comment widely spread says: when being dirty becomes normal, staying clean is also a sin. I hope local government does not disappoint Mao and the public this time.

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