US police told the Global Times on Wednesday that the Confucius Institute representative who died after police searched his home was thought to have committed suicide at his apartment on October 7 local time.
“On Wednesday, October 7th at approximately 09:45 A.M. Officers responded to the first block of Colonial Village Court for a SUICIDE, JUST DISCOVERED,” the Webster Groves Police said in a media release that the Global Times received on Wednesday.
No signs of foul play were found at the scene, while the case remains under investigation, local police said in the release.
The Beijing Language and Culture University had urged police in the US to disclose more details about the death of a Confucius Institute representative who died after police searched his home in Webster Groves Missouri, according to media reports and a statement released by the Beijing school on Sunday.
The Beijing university has sent a special work team to the US to investigate.
Shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Professor Liu Qiang in the US, the university has set up a special work team and sent condolences to Liu's family members, the university statement said.
The university has been working closely with the Chinese Consulate General in Chicago to further the investigation, while urging the US authorities to release results of Liu's death as soon as possible.
Liu, who had worked in the Webster University since January 2019 as a representative of the Confucius Institute under the Beijing Language and Culture University, was reported to have died after police searched his home on Tuesday, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported on Friday.
The police and FBI searched Liu's apartment as part of a child pornography investigation, local county police confirmed to the media via email.
Webster University issued a statement on Saturday after police informed the school of Liu's death. It denied any connection between the incident or the investigations and the university, but will conduct its own investigation to determine potential evidence of harm.
The sudden death of Liu has triggered backlashes on China's social media platforms. With only vague information released by police about the case, the Chinese public was demanding to know the cause of Liu's death, and whether there is proof of the child pornography investigation. Some netizens have asked if Liu was a victim of US' political prosecution.
"Even if the police have found conclusive evidence, they should proceed with a fair trial by the law, rather than announcing Liu's death with no explanations," one netizen wrote.
"I request the US police disclose more details of the case. If there is any police violence or abuse of power during the investigation, they must be brought to justice," the comment read.
The Confucius Institute, established around the world to enhance cultural and person-to-person exchanges between China and other countries and regions, has hit a bumpy road in recent years, with many people saying it was the result of mounting US hostility toward China.
In early September, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he was hopeful that dozens of Confucius Institutes on the campuses across the US would be shut by the year end, accusing them of being "a propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party" on Twitter.
Pompeo has labeled the Confucius Institute as a "foreign mission," a typical move of the Trump administration to ramp up its efforts to accelerate the decoupling from China.