Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), a Chinese military university, released 19 obituaries from late December to early January, including an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, amid a recent surge in COVID-19 infections sweeping across China.
From Dec. 24, 2022, to Jan. 5, 2023, 14 professors, two associate professors, two Communist Party branch heads, and one senior engineer at HIT passed away, according to the university’s official website.
Chinese media reported that they all died from “illness” and did not provide further information.
Wang Zhongqi, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and expert in turbomachinery aerodynamics, died of illness on Dec. 25 at the age of 90. Wang studied at the Moscow Power Engineering Institute from 1960 to 1962, and received an associate doctorate in science and technology from the institute.
He is one of the founders of China’s turbomachinery field, a developer of the bowed-twisted blade theory in China, and a pioneer in the design of the bowed-twisted blade. Wang received numerous awards from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in his lifetime, according to his eulogy.
Of the 16 professors, eight worked in the field of aerospace engineering, and almost all had received awards from the CCP’s Ministry of Aerospace Industry on multiple occasions.
At least 11 of the deceased were known to be Communist Party members.
‘7 Sons of National Defense’
The “Seven Sons of National Defense” is a group of leading Chinese universities with deep roots in the military and defense industry. They collaborate closely with the People’s Liberation Army.
These seven universities are HIT, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Beijing Institute of Technology, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Harbin Engineering University—all directly under the CCP’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
HIT’s main campus is located in Harbin city, Heilongjiang Province. It also has campuses in Weihai city of Shandong Province and Shenzhen city of Guangdong Province. The school was founded in 1920.
In May 2020, the United States included 13 Chinese universities in its Entity List—including Northwestern Polytechnical University, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, HIT, and Harbin Engineering University—due to their involvement in the CCP’s military industry, weapons, aerospace, electronic information, chemical, and material projects.
On Dec. 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued another announcement, adding 77 entities to its Entity List to protect U.S. national security.
The United States accused these companies and institutions of violating human rights and being involved with weapons of mass destruction and other military activities that benefit the CCP, posing risks to U.S. national security.
The “Seven Sons of National Defense,” along with 11 other Chinese universities, were included in the U.S. sanctions list.
In June 2020, the United States announced that it would cancel the visas of Chinese students and researchers who have direct ties to Chinese universities affiliated with the Chinese military and deport them from the country. The international students involved are from Northwestern Polytechnical University, Harbin Engineering University, HIT, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Beijing Institute of Technology, and Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Space.