The police says the 15-year-old student committed suicide. But the story the authorities tell fuels the scandal rather than suppressing it.
by Lei Shihong
Last month, Bitter Winter reported about the national scandal surrounding the disappearance on October 14, 2022, of Hu Xinyu, a 15-year-old boy from the private Zhiyuan Middle School in Shangrao city, Jiangxi province. After three months, he had not been found, and protests by the family escalated to a social media tsunami asking whether the police was really investigating the case and what the authorities had to hide. After the case of the “chained mother of the eight,” another nation-wide scandal, rumors were running wild among human trafficking and senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s officers complicity with it.
As the scandal continued to grow, seriously embarrassing the CCP, all of a sudden on January 29 the Shangrao city police announced that Hu’s body had been discovered on January 26, in an old warehouse, only a hundred meters away from the school from where the student had disappeared more than three months before. The police claimed that the young boy had committed suicide and that messages he left in a recording pen confirmed he was desperate about his lack of school success.
According to the police, Hu climbed the walls of the warehouse, and once he had entered the building he hanged himself on a branch protruding into the warehouse at an eight of some 4,5 meters from the ground, using the laces of his shoes to create a rudimental noose.
The police believed the story would put the rumors to rest. It did not happen. The local authorities organized a press conference, where no representatives of the school or the family were present, difficult questions were not answered, and it was repeatedly stated that those spreading rumors on social media will be punished.
However, social media literally exploded with criticism of the press conference. The main objections can be summarized as such.
First, if the police had looked for Hu “everywhere,” as it claimed, for more than three months, why was the warehouse, which is at five minutes walking distance from the school, not searched?
Second, the police claimed that in a country where surveillance cameras are everywhere, there were none on the path from the school to the warehouse. Assuming this is true, how could Hu know it and why, once he had decided to commit suicide, did he choose a rare path without cameras?
Third, the suicide seems to have been a quite complicated exercise. Hu had to climb the high wall of the warehouse and find a way to reach the branch on which he allegedly hanged himself. Even more importantly, the police claimed that the branch was not broken after having supported for more than 100 days the weight of the 75-kg boy, which seems almost miraculous.
Fourth, when requested to play the messages it claimed were left on the pen recorder the police refused to do it, claiming it wanted to protect the privacy of the boy (but all the other graphic details of his alleged suicide were released).
Of course, it is still possible that Hu really committed suicide. However, the story as told by the police is full of holes. Once again, it is the CCP’s opacity that fuels distrust and rumors.