On November 6, 2018, Hu Xin, 66, retired editor-in-chief of News Front, a monthly magazine published by the People’s Daily group, was reported by various sources on Chinese social media as having committed suicide by jumping from the 19th floor of the group’s property in Beijing. These posts were later deleted and, six months later, no official report has been released.
“The violent death of a journalist should never be overlooked, as they may withhold sensitive information collected during their journalistic investigations,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia Bureau, who called on the Chinese authorities to “shed light on Hu Xin’s apparent suicide, which is the latest in a series of suspicious deaths of media and political figures in recent years.”
Hu joined People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s official media group, in the 1990s. Before taking the editor-in-chief position for News Front magazine in late 2008, she was also the chief editor for People’s Tribune magazine, another publication of the group. She retired in 2014.
Hu Xin’s death mirrors that of Xu Huaiqian, another former editor of People’s Daily, who reportedly jumped from the group’s headquarters in 2012. Zheng Xiaosong, China’s highest ranking official in Macau, also fell to his death from his high-rise apartment in October 2018 in a reported suicide. In June of the same year, Chinese journalist Dai Shizong was also killed in suspicious circumstances in Hunan province.
China fell further down the 2019 RSF World Press Freedom Index, ranking 177 out of 180.