A top Taiwanese missile official was found dead in a hotel room on Saturday morning after suffering a heart attack, according to the country’s official central news agency (CNA).
Ou Yang Li-hsing was deputy head of the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, which is owned by the Taiwanese military and is the research and development unit of the Ministry of Defense.
According to Taiwanese authorities, there was no sign of a “break-in” in the hotel room in southern Taiwan where the 57-year-old died, according to CNA. He was in charge of several missile production projects.
Ou Yang’s family said he had heart problems in the past and also had a cardiac stent.
His death comes amid heightened tensions between Taiwan and China following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island, which China considers part of its sovereign territory.
China has conducted live-fire military exercises near Taiwan as part of its response to Pelosi’s visit, which the Chinese government strongly condemned.
Ou Yang had assumed the role of the military research and development unit earlier this year as the organization aims to more than double its missile production capacity to about 500 by 2022.
That increase in production capacity is reportedly in response to what Taiwan sees as a growing military threat from China. Chinese troops conducted live fire drills near the island after Pelosi’s visit.
Ou Yang was on a business trip to Pingtung County at the time of his death.
Taiwan’s Apple Daily reported on Saturday that Ou Yang’s staff knocked on his hotel room and when he didn’t answer, hotel staff opened the door and found him dead. Police arrived at the scene and reviewed security footage, but found no evidence of a break-in.
News week has asked the government of Taiwan for comment.
On Friday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said Chinese ships and warplanes had crossed the centerline of the Taiwan Strait as part of those exercises. The centerline is considered an unofficial buffer zone between China and Taiwan.
China also announced unspecified sanctions against Pelosi and her immediate family during her trip to the island, while also saying the country is ending cooperation with the US in a number of areas, including climate change and the repatriation of illegal immigrants.
The US, like most other countries, does not formally recognize Taiwan as an independent country, but successive US administrations have provided significant support to the island, including supplying weapons.
Update 06/08/22 4:15 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with more information.