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Top petition official found dead in office

By Wang Yiqiong Source:Global Times Published: 2014-4-11 0:38:03

A top official from China's petitioning authority allegedly committed suicide in his office, Chinese media reported Thursday.

Xu Ye'an, deputy director of the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, was found dead in his office Tuesday morning, Caixin magazine reported, sourcing an insider.

The reason for his suspected suicide is so far unclear, although sources told Caixin that Xu had long been in poor heath. He had recently been afflicted with tinnitus for several months and was in a bad mood.

Xu, 59, was promoted from Hubei provincial letters and calls bureau to the State bureau in 2005, and promoted to deputy director in 2011.

The bureau is the top administrative system for hearing complaints and grievances about authorities from individuals. The bureau and its branches have often triggered controversy for its corruption and power abuse problems.

Former deputy director of the State Bureau for Letters and Calls Xu Jie is under investigation for violation of Party discipline and law, China's top discipline watchdog reported in November 2013.

Yang Weidong, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times that it is hard to judge whether his suicide is related to work pressure with so few facts revealed, but it is certain that petitioning departments have dealt with a heavy workload in the past decade.

The possibility that corrupt officials commit suicide when facing judicial investigation cannot be ruled out, said Yang, but he reiterated that the full facts will be needed to make a conclusion.

The bureau has yet to make any public comment about the Caixin report. 

The petition system has been subject to reform recently. 

The state bureau stopped openly ranking provinces by the amount of petition cases against them since February 2013, an act considered a huge relief for local officials. The number of local petitioners who petition at the State bureau in Beijing was formerly an important index for evaluating local officials' job performance.
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