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On latest mining accidents in China
Just like the SARS epidemic, the government-controlled media in Mainland China downplays the frequent mining accidents in China. According to German media reports, the international media is fully aware of the situation, regularly protest the Chinese government’s secrecy, and doubt the credibility of the published statistics.
According to official records, mining accidents in China last year caused 15,000 deaths in total. The accumulated death toll for the first half of 2003 is 2,800. No one outside the government knows what the real figures are. In most other nations, the cause for high death rates is war. However, mining deaths in China continue to be one of the leading causes of death not related to natural disasters. Also, this figure only shows reported deaths from mine accidents. If the actual figures were added to the death tolls from other disasters and catastrophes, China’s death count due to non-natural disaster caused would be the highest in the world.
On the surface, the mining accidents are simply a problem of work safety, such as bad engineering, poor ventilation, unsafe working environments or lack of safety equipment. However, these are only the symptoms. The underlying cause of all these tragic and avoidable deaths is the social problems that the government refuses to address.
China has the largest mining industry in the world and is the world’s biggest coal-exporting country. However, these coal products come mostly from small illegal private diggings. Because they are illegal, they are not under administration supervision. The owners of these illegal mines don’t invest in safety equipment because they need their money to fund other speculative ventures. The result is not hard to imagine.
On the other hand, since these illegal diggings do not have to pay taxes and buy safety equipment, the owners can lower their prices and compete with state-mined coal products. This illegal competition has resulted in the bankruptcy of many state-owned excavations. Countless mineworkers have been laid off. Those who are lucky enough to keep their jobs have to wait for months to get paid.
To make a living, the unemployed government miners have to hire on as laborers at the illegal mines. Because there are so few jobs, they risk their lives for very low wages. The owners are secure, knowing that the Communist government turns a blind eye towards them. These illegal mines save the government money and ease the severe nationwide unemployment problem. Because of this, the government does not eradicate the illegal mines. This is not only a tragedy for the dead workers and their family members, but also a tragedy to modern China.
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