Dark Secrets of Death in China’s Mine Shafts

When details of coal mine murder-extortion plots in Beijing began to surface, some cinema fans noted the murders’ striking similarity to those in the 2003 film Blind Shaft. But as a Caixin article reveals, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction:

Zhang Xihua left most of her relatives in the dark when she suddenly and secretly married Han Junhong, an apartment security guard eight years her younger, and convinced him to quit his job.

Equally mysterious was Zhang’s sudden decision to divorce the father of her two children before running off with Han.

But according to prosecutors, Zhang had at least one confidante who knew in advance why and how she would dump one husband and marry another. She had confided in a distant relative, Communist Party member and textile factory owner named Huang Yucai.

Prosecutors say Huang, 51, not only persuaded Zhang, 46, to divorce and marry Han, but he also convinced her to kill him in the shaft of an illegal coal mine near Beijing as part of an elaborate, but apparently not so unusual, extortion plot.

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