NPC Standing Committee to Supervise Coal Mine Safety Inspections

May 10, 2005

The National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPC-SC) selected five vice-chairmen to inspect safety measures in coal mines, according to the April 29 edition of the Legal Daily. The five senior NPC-SC leaders will travel to Shandong, Guizhou, Inner Mongolia, Beijing, and Jilin between May 10 and June 10. The five are Li Tieying, a former Politburo member; Wang Zhaoguo, currently on the Politburo; Ismail Asmat, a State Councilor and long-serving NPC member representing China’s minorities; Cheng Siwei, a science and chemistry specialist; and Xiu Jialu, Chairman of the Central Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy.

Wang Zhaoguo commented at the first inspection team meeting on April 28 that work safety is a main concern of the Chinese people and the rate of accidents must be reduced. Li Tieying, who chairs NPC-SC law enforcement committee, said that coal mine safety remains the key area for inspection, and the inspection team will pay particular attention to small, private mines. He also said that the coal industry produces serious diseases such as black lung and tuberculosis. Li urged the inspectors to go down into the mines to talk with the miners, and to listen to their concerns.

The Legal Daily article points out that although the total number of accidents has been reduced in the past two years, the number of deaths and injuries resulting from these accidents are about the same as in recent years, i.e., 130,000 casualties per year.

The Chinese public and government officials increasingly acknowledge the dangerous conditions in Chinese coal mines. So far, however, Chinese leaders have not pushed heightened coal mine safety measures, which might slow coal production. Coal continues to fuel the continuing growth of China's economy.