Caixin
Jul 20, 2021 09:03 PM
CHINA

Chief of Aerospace Company Arrested for Assaulting Scientists

Zhang Tao, party secretary and chairman of China Aerospace Investment Holdings. Photo: VCG
Zhang Tao, party secretary and chairman of China Aerospace Investment Holdings. Photo: VCG

A senior Chinese aerospace executive has been expelled from the Communist Party and removed from public office for allegedly attacking two senior scientists, according to a statement (link in Chinese) published Monday by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC), the main contractor for the country’s space program.

Zhang Tao, party secretary and chairman of China Aerospace Investment Holdings (CAIH), was detained by police earlier this month. Following the statement issued by CASC, the parent of CAIH, prosecutors in Beijing’s Chaoyang district approved the arrest (link in Chinese) of Zhang on suspicion of intentional injury.

The 57-year-old official drew public attention earlier after video footage circulating online showed that Zhang in June punched and kicked two scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, one of China’s two top academies, with one of them needing hospitalization.

The scientists, Wu Meirong, 85, and Wang Jinnian, 54, suffered spinal fractures and rib fractures respectively, according to their diagnostic reports circulating online. Wu had to undergo surgery at Aerospace Center Hospital, a hospital staffer confirmed to Caixin.

An official investigation has found that Zhang on June 6 invited the two scholars to visit his company and asked them to recommend he get admitted to the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), a request that the scientists — both IAA members — apparently turned down amid a heated discussion during dinner.

Zhang sent the pair home in their residential community in Chaoyang, where he again got into an argument with Wang and kicked the scientist repeatedly in an elevator. Wu, who tried to dissuade Zhang, was pulled to the ground twice, according to the investigation. Wu was then sent to the Aerospace Center Hospital while Wang rested at home.

On June 12, Wang reported the case to police at the Olympic Village Police Station in Chaoyang after visiting the hospital. Zhang was placed under investigation the same day.

On July 5, Wang went to the hospital for further examination. The results became the evidence proving that he received a secondary minor injury, according to a judicial appraisal institution. Local police subsequently detained Zhang.

Born in 1964, Zhang holds a doctor’s degree. During his more than two-decade-long career, he has served in many senior posts in the aerospace industry, such as director of the economic cooperation division of CASC’s planning bureau. In December 2018, he was promoted from CAIH’s general manager and deputy party secretary to its chairman and party secretary.

Contact reporter Wang Xintong (xintongwang@caixin.com) and editor Lu Zhenhua (zhenhualu@ caixin.com)

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