Feng, a reporter for the Xi’an-based daily Gejie Daobao, was found in a ditch outside Xi’an with his throat cut, according to Chinese and international press reports.
Feng was an investigative reporter who wrote about criminal gangs and their links to corrupt local politicians. He had received repeated death threats, and his rented room had been broken into many times. In the days before his death, he told colleagues he was being followed and that he feared for his life, according to Reuters. On January 14, he moved to new lodgings as a safety precaution.
Soon after Feng’s body was found, police ruled his death a suicide and banned the local press from writing about it. According to relatives who identified his body, there was a four-inch gash in his throat and no blood on his clothes, making it unlikely he could have killed himself. One relative told Reuters, “He had no reason to commit suicide. He had a happy, healthy family, a good job, and no psychological problems.”
Feng’s relatives and colleagues believe he was killed for his journalistic work. They have petitioned local authorities to reopen the case but have received no response.
Feng, a former farmer, began writing articles and sending them to local publications in the hope of becoming a journalist. After his first article was published in 1980, he won several awards for his writing before being hired by Gejie Daobao in 1996.