Corruption in mining investment faces action
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-10 05:57
A senior work safety official yesterday vowed a further crack down on illegal
investment by government officials into coal mines this year, in a drive to
clean up the industry.
"As Premier Wen Jiabao has required, we will continue to
strike hard at any illegal investment in coal mines by government officials,"
said Zhao Tiechui, vice-minister of the State Administration of Work Safety.
Two miners watch the live broadcast of Foreign
minister Li Zhaoxing's news conference at a coal mine in Huaibei, East
China's Anhui Province March 7, 2006. The hoped the ongoing session of the
National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative
Conference could help them improve work conditions and raise
Zhao, also director of the State Administration for Coal Mine Safety, issued
the warning on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the National
People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.
In his government work report to the NPC on Sunday, Premier Wen placed an
unprecedented emphasis on improving work safety.
"We will conduct in-depth investigations into cases of dereliction of duty
and corruption related to work safety and severely punish those responsible,"
Illegal investment in coal mines by government officials have been widely
blamed for their disregard of illegal or unsafe operations in the lucrative
Last year, 5,938 coal miners were killed in 3,341 accidents, accounting for
almost 80 per cent of the world's total.
By the end of last year, the government has forced 4,878 officials and heads
of State-owned enterprises to withdraw 562 million yuan (US$69 million) of
investment in coal mines as part of a special campaign.
Zhao yesterday encouraged the public to report on corrupt practices and help
seek out the officials who had invested in coal mines.
"We will firmly depend on the support of the public to push ahead with the
work," he said.
The senior official also emphasized that his administration will step up
efforts to close down unsafe coal mines through better supervision.
To curb rampant coal mine accidents, Zhao's administration issued new safety
rules for coal mines in September last year, ordering the closure of illegal
mines and the suspension of those that failed to meet safety requirements.
A total of 5,243 illegal and unsafe mines had been closed down by the end of
"Despite the initial progress, it cannot be ruled out that some unsafe coal
mines are still in operation, and we will continue to strengthen our supervision
and inspection," Zhao said.
As China's coal industry is often hitted by deadly accidents, the
vice-minister said he spends at least half of his working time investigating
coal mine accidents each year.
Zhao expressed his hope that the central government's greater attention on
work safety will pay off with greatly improved mining safety.
Earlier, Premier Wen said the central government will
allocate 3 billion yuan (US$371 million) in treasury bonds to control coal mine
gases, which are a major cause of coal mine blasts.