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Leading Chinese provincial official dead in apparent suicide

Associated Press

BEIJING – A leading official in China’s southern manufacturing powerhouse of Guangdong province has been found dead in an apparent suicide, state media said Tuesday, underscoring the extreme pressure some local leaders are under over job stress and an ongoing crackdown on corruption.

Liu Xiaohua apparently hanged himself at his home in the provincial capital of Guangzhou on Sunday, the official Xinhua News Agency and others reported. No other details were given and officers contacted by phone at provincial police headquarters refused to comment.

Liu was a deputy secretary general of the provincial Communist Party committee, making him one of the province’s most powerful officials. Prior to that, he’d held positions in the provincial and local governments, including as leader of the major city of Zhanjiang during which he dominated all major government and military posts.

A number of suicides among provincial Chinese leaders have been reported in recent years, often linked to the nation’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign that has placed officials under intense scrutiny.

It was not clear whether Liu was under investigation, although his death came as the province’s anti-corruption watchdog body has been redoubling its probes of government and state industry leaders.

Local officials are frequently accused of abusing their authority and accepting bribes in return for jobs or business favors, sometimes motivated by the need to recoup bribes they paid themselves.

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