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Official Collusion with Mine Owners Targeted
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On Monday, the General Office of the State Council said government officials and managers of state-owned enterprises had until September 22 to give up any illegal shares they hold in coal mines, in an attempt to improve mine safety.


In some places, collusion between government officials and colliery owners worsens work safety problems and increases difficulties for work safety departments in addressing them, said State Administration for Work Safety (SAWS) spokesperson Huang Yi.


"Such an announcement will no doubt give a clear warning to those officials who collude with mine owners," said Wu Zongzhi, vice-director of the National Centre of Safety Science and Technology.


"But it would have little effect on those who stealthily collaborate with them," said Wu. "For example, many government officials profit from coal mining using their influence."


Monday's statement also said that all illegal collieries and those that fail to meet safety standards by the end of the year will be closed for good, after having had one chance to remedy conditions.


SAWS head Li Yizhong said all levels of government must carry out central government orders and officials who have abused their position will be punished accordingly, and Huang added that they are drafting concrete measures to implement the commitment.


According to the SAWS, 1,436 miners were killed in 39 major accidents by August 21 this year.


More than 60 percent of the tragedies occurred in coal mines that had been ordered to stop production for work safety improvements, indicating that corruption on the part of local officials was partly responsible, said Huang.


Huang also said the State Council will soon draft new regulations on the prevention of coal mine accidents.


(China Daily August 25, 2005)

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