A county level official in northern China who was previously responsible for housing has allegedly been stabbed to death by a man the government said was illegally occupying a state asset.

On Wednesday, the government website of Qin county in Shanxi province released an obituary stating that Qin county Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference party secretary and chairman Guo Jianyu, aged 58, was killed around 7am on Monday while he was on duty.


A look into China’s real estate market: unpaid workers and silent construction sites

A look into China’s real estate market: unpaid workers and silent construction sites

The obituary said Guo was responsible for dealing with the illegal occupation of state-owned housing and that the suspect was an illegal occupant. It did not elaborate on details of the dispute.

However, mainland legal outlet Fadulaw, quoting an anonymous source, said on its WeChat account that the incident was believed to be related to a housing dispute stemming from Guo’s term as a township leader.

Guo was head of Dingchang town in Qin county between 2006 and 2011.

On Monday, a local police report said there had been stabbing incident in a residential area in Qin county, resulting in the death of one person. A suspect, named as An Yaohong, was arrested at 7.45pm the same day.

Guo became vice-mayor of Qin county in 2011, a position that usually deals with municipal issues including housing, and he became chairman of the Qin county CPPCC in 2016.

Housing disputes between local governments and residents are not rare in China due to vague and changing rules, and there have been multiple cases of unresolved disputes turning into criminal cases.

However, direct violence against officials remains rare.