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Last Updated: Monday, 7 March, 2005, 12:54 GMT
China spends on coalmine safety
The Sunjiawan mine in Fuxin, China
214 miners died at Sunjiawen in February
China's Premier Wen Jiabao has promised the state is to spend 3bn yuan ($362m; 189m) to "truly make coal mining safe", state media reported.

The money will be used to improve safety equipment at state-run mines.

At least 6,000 miners died in China's mines last year, making them the deadliest in the world.

Mr Wen made the pledge in his speech to the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, stressing the need to improve the lives of poorer Chinese.

He called for "a strong sense of responsibility to the people", and linked the issue of better mine safety to the maintenance of social stability and the building of "a harmonious society", the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Promoting a gentler society

Mr Wen has made the need for better treatment of workers and farmers into a major political theme since he became premier two years ago.

CHINA'S MINING DISASTERS
World's most deadly mining industry - 6000 killed in 2004
Demand for energy jeopardises safety
Government did not disclose details of accidents until recently
World's most deadly mining accident took place in China in 1942 - 1,549 people died in Japanese-occupied Manchuria

He has sought to promote a caring image by visiting miners, Aids sufferers and flood victims. Meanwhile, central government has increased financial support to farmers and punishments for corrupt rural officials.

China has suffered two major mining disasters in the last four months, most recently in February when 214 miners died in a gas explosion at Sunjiawan in Liaoning province.

Mr Wen chaired a meeting of the State Council to highlight safety after that tragedy, and Liaoning province's vice-governor has been suspended.

However, miners die in smaller-scale accidents almost daily, most often in illegal or under-regulated private mines.

The central State General Administration of Work Safety has stepped up efforts to close unsafe private mines, but strong demand for coal makes them hugely profitable and local officials often collude to keep them open.

Fatalities in Chinese mines accounted for about 80% of coal mining deaths around the world last year.




SEE ALSO:
China acts over mining disaster
23 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese mine explosion kills 203
15 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China's miners pay for growth
08 Dec 04 |  Business
Life cheap in China's mines
28 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
China mine death toll passes 120
26 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific


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