The head of the Chinese central government’s liaison office in Macau has died in a fall from his home, Beijing authorities said on Sunday morning.
Hong Kong officials and politicians expressed shock over the sudden passing of Zheng Xiaosong, who had been “suffering from depression”, according to a statement issued by the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), which is based in Beijing.
The 59-year-old took up the post of director last year. Before that he was a deputy director at the Communist Party’s International Liaison Department.
In a brief press release, the Beijing office said Zheng “died on Saturday from a fall from his Macau residence ... because he suffered from depression”.
“Leaders of the central government have entrusted comrades from the organisation department and the HKMAO to travel to Macau and send condolences to Zheng’s family,” the press release said.
No further details were given on Zheng’s condition before his death.
Speaking on Sunday afternoon, Macau’s Director of the Judiciary Police Sit Chong-meng refused to say whether the death was being investigated.
He said the case was being processed according to established procedures and that he had no further information to offer.
Zheng’s death came just days before the opening of the 55km Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. The world’s longest sea crossing is set to open on Wednesday.
Top officials from Macau and Hong Kong on Sunday sent their condolences to Zheng’s family.
Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, said she first met Zheng when he was working in Fujian province.
Zheng held multiple positions there between 2013 and 2016, including that of secretary of the party’s Fujian provincial committee.
“[Zheng] worked in Hong Kong earlier and was familiar with Hong Kong and concerned about the development of the city. I was grieved to learn of his sudden departure,” Lam said.
I don’t think there is anything suspicious
Lau Siu-kai, The Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies
In a brief statement, Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on described Zheng’s passing as “unfortunate”.
Pro-establishment camp veteran Tam Yiu-chung said people should not speculate on Zheng’s condition.
“We cannot speculate … we believe the contents of the press release,” Tam added.
Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of semi-official think tank The Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, echoed that sentiment.
“I don’t think there is anything suspicious,” he said. “The central government immediately put up a notice and sent people to see to his family.”
But Lau believed the incident could cast a sombre mood over the debut of the mega bridge.
According to the liaison office in Macau, Zheng had been on duty the day before his death. He had met representatives of a think tank in the city at his office.
Between 1993 and 1996 he was secretary to Jiang Enzhu, a former deputy director of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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