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Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005, 05:18 GMT 06:18 UK
Mine safety drive fails in China
By Daniel Griffiths
BBC News, Beijing

Miners in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in May
China has 24,000 mines, supplying 70% of the nation's energy
China has admitted that a campaign to get officials to give up illegal stakes in the country's highly profitable but dangerous coal mines has failed.

The country has the world's deadliest mining industry, and thousands die each year in mining accidents.

This campaign was supposed to be part of a major drive to improve safety in its coal mines.

Local officials often have shares in the mines, which have risen in value as coal fuels the booming economy.

But poor safety standards and many illegal operations have led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 miners in the first half of this year alone.

Beijing ordered all local officials to give up their stakes after growing public anger about the problem.

Now, though, it has admitted that those orders have been ignored by many Communist Party cadres.

One quoted in the state media said he would rather give up his official position than lose his shares.

It is a stark reminder that in the new China, Beijing's control over local government is weakening as officials put profit before the party.


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