Chinese Government Takes Steps to Respond to Recent Mine Disasters

February 24, 2005

The Chinese government is now considering standards for increased compensation for workers injured in coal mine accidents, according to a report in the Lianhe Zaobao of Singapore. One part of the State Production Safety and Control Department’s proposal calls for a maximum of 20 years wages for young workers in cases where the coal enterprise is entirely at fault. The proposal also recommends that the new regulations be incorporated in the current regulations on industrial accidents that Chinese courts currently implement and that provincial governments enact them into law.

At the same time, government bodies are using more traditional means to address these problems. The State Council, for example, is establishing an investigation group, see this report in the Legal Daily. And a recent China Daily opinion piece recommended that the State strengthen its supervisory role so that both large and small state-operated mines spend the money necessary to improve safety. The article notes, however, that government authorities have "strengthened supervision" of mine safety continuously (without, the writer implies, great success) and that China has a number of laws and regulations already in place to promote safety in mines.

The Liaoning and Shaanxi mine disasters happened so closely together that many in China and abroad believe that some type of reform will result. As the Lianhe Zaobao article points out, public criticism of the mining industry is growing and "netizens are even questioning if Premier Wen Jiabao is 'only shedding tears after the event…"