The head of Beijing’s liaison office in Macau has died after a fall in his home, in what central authorities yesterday implied was a depression-related suicide.
The 59-year-old Zheng Xiaosong, who replaced Wang Zhimin as the head of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macau SAR about one year ago, was said to have been “suffering from depression,” according to a statement from the Beijing- based Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO).
The office said that Zheng “died on Saturday from a fall from his Macau residence […] because he suffered from depression.” The statement did not elaborate further on the circumstances surrounding the official’s death, but did show that Zheng met with the head of a think tank the day before his death.
Officials in both Macau and Hong Kong sent their condolences to Zheng’s family over the weekend, including Chief Executive Chui Sai On, who issued a statement to express his deep regret.
“It was with deep consternation that I received word of the director’s death,” wrote Chui in the statement. “On behalf of the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region, I offer the deepest regret and our heartfelt condolences to your family.”
According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s top official, Carrie Lam, said she met Zheng years earlier when he served in a previous post in Fujian province. He was previously the vice governor of the province, before being appointed liaison office head just last year.
His death comes as the long-anticipated Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge opens tomorrow and senior officials from the mainland – possibly including Chinese President Xi Jinping – travel to neighboring Zhuhai.
It is not yet known whether local police authorities deem the as death suspicious, nor whether they intend to investigate.
Professor Lau Siu-kai, who sits on think tank the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the SCMP that he doesn’t think the circumstances of Zheng’s death are suspicious.
“I don’t think there is anything suspicious,” he said, but added that it might dampen the celebratory mood of tomorrow’s bridge inauguration.
In October 2017, anti-corruption authorities on the mainland placed Li Gang, former head of the Macau liaison office, on year-long probation, citing “severe violations” of party discipline. Li had been suddenly transferred back to Beijing in 2016. He was replaced as liaison office head by Wang Zhimin.