Draft bills view gov't as responsible
The local government should be held liable for safety accidents that occur in the nation's capital and any damage that befalls historical relics, according to the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress. Committee members, the city's top local legislators, stressed the points Thursday while discussing the drafts of the Beijing Safety Production Regulation and the Beijing Regulation for Historic City Protection.
"In protecting Beijing as a well-known historic and cultural city, the municipal government has to shoulder the principle responsibility," Zhang Yi, chairman of the Standing Committee's Urban Construction and Environmental Protection Committee, said Thursday.
Zhang said the responsibilities of district and county governments should also be stipulated, as they are the ones actually in charge of implementing government functions.
Beijing's municipal government should propose detailed protection mechanisms for historic water systems, architecture, districts and hutongs, according to the local legislators.
Beijing, a city for over 3,000 years and a capital city for 800 years, has been challenged by experts due to the destruction of its tradition through massive urban construction and home renovation projects.
Also Thursday, the local lawmakers said the government should be blamed if accidents occur due to negligence.
"After an Internet cafe fire killed 25 people in 2002, it was found that 94 per cent of all net cafes in Beijing were illegal," said Shi Jichun, a Standing Committee member.
"If those illegal outlets were being operated right in front of the authorities, isn't it the government's responsibility?
"I believe that local government should shoulder the main responsibility if such accidents occur."
Zhang Wen, head of Beijing's suburban Miyun County and deputy-secretary of the Miyun County Committee of the Communist Party of China, was dismissed last month in the aftermath of an accident in February in the county that killed 37 people.
Meanwhile, three officials in the county who were allegedly directly responsible for the accident -- Sun Yong, head of the police station in Miyun's Chengguan, Chen Bainian, commissar of the station, and Wang Haiyan, director of the county cultural bureau's Cultural Commission, will go before a court.
A total of 26 production safety accidents occurred in Beijing in the first quarter of this year, 18 per cent higher than the same period in 2003. Thirty-one people were killed, up 29 per cent on last year, sources said.
During discussion on the historic city protection regulation, Zhang Wenqi said that he doubted whether the municipal government would fulfil its protection duties.
"The overall layout of Beijing, which is now discussed by the local government, should also be reviewed by lawmakers and ask for authorization in accordance with the protection regulation discussed by us now," Zhang urged.
According to the draft proposed by the municipal government, local governments should assign special fund for historic and cultural protection. Donations are also welcome.