TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former editor-in-chief of Chinese Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily, Hu Xin (胡欣), has died after falling 19 floors from the headquarter building, according to reports.
Hu, who was previously chief editor of both People’s Daily and subsidiary publication Frontline News, died yesterday (Nov. 6) at age 66. Initial public posts on social media platform Weibo were removed, and authorities banned users from talking about the issue. Official state media issued a message of condolence.
Reports say People’s Daily and Frontline News share the same general office building. An anonymous employee said they witnessed Hu around the office looking despondent in the weeks prior to her death, despite her retiring a few years ago. The employee had learned Hu suffered from insomnia after seeing her at a health clinic and discussing the issue.
The former chief editor fell from the 19th floor of the People’s Daily office building, and although emergency services rushed to the scene, she was pronounced dead immediately after. Inside sources at People’s Daily confirmed the incident.
Hu Xin, born in 1952, graduated from Peking University’s Department of Philosophy and held a master’s degree. She first began working for People’s Daily in 1990 at the “theory department.” Before taking on an editorial role at Frontline News in 2008, she worked as an editor for the People’s Tribune.
Hu was bestowed with several awards by the Chinese government and has had articles reprinted in the New York Times.
Although the cause of death cannot be confirmed, media reports are suggesting it was suicide, as Hu was noted to suffer from depression as well as insomnia.
In a conversation with Radio Free Asia, a journalist surnamed Zheng discussed how many working in state media suffer from depression due to the "amount of fakery" they have to write each day, which affects them psychologically. Another journalist, surnamed Zhou, said Hu's suffering should not be classed as depression, but rather, "a divided sense of self."
Hu was a well-known figure within the Chinese media and propaganda system, over which the CPP holds tight reins. Rather than reporting actual current events, employees are required to obscure truths to present information in line with the party's vision.
The incident marks the second suicide in recent years at People’s Daily, as the paper’s “earth supplement” chief editor, Xu Suoqian (徐懷謙), also jumped from the building in 2012.