The worst in 14 months

Written by Julen Madariaga on February 23rd, 2009

The AFP dispatch says it all:

Seventy-four workers were confirmed dead and dozens trapped underground after a gas blast early on Sunday at a colliery in northern China, the worst accident to hit the nation’s mines in over 14 months.

There is something very wrong with these news.  The paragraph should end with “the worst since the beginning of Reform” or even “since the fall of the Qing”. But the worst in over 14 months!

A mine, and especially a coal mine, is a dangerous working environment - we have known very serious accidents in Europe as well. But, in the 21st century, large scale incidents with 74 fatalities becoming yearly routine is not simply an “accident”. It is a conscious act of a company manager who is gambling with the life of his workers. And there is a responsibility from the government for allowing to continue operations in some mines that should have been closed down long ago.

For the sake of comparison: Only this one incident is 10 times more deadly than the whole Sanlu tainted milk scandal. In that case, there was wide social response and the governent saw it as a serious harmony problem. A fast trial was organized, the company was dismantled and in three months there were leaders condemned. Probably not perfect justice, but at least there was some action.

But who will speak for the black faced migrant miners? There is no independent union of miners to organize protests. The general public is not concerned by a safety issue that - unlike tainted milk- will never put their own well-being at risk. The media, both international and Chinese,  will have forgotten the incident in no more than a week.

Very soon we will all turn our attention to different news and, in the meantime, the miners will still be going down, little by little digging their way into their next pocket of gas.

Sharing is free, support my work:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • Haohao
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • LinkedIn
  • Netvibes
  • Reddit
  • Posterous
  • Live
  • QQ书签
  • MSN Reporter
  • 豆瓣
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • MySpace
  • FriendFeed
  • Print

Comments so far ↓

  1. Feb

    A deadly risky job position like this is unbelievably competitive.

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Feb
    xiao lu

    Can’t be much more agree with you. The tone of paragraph is ridiculous. “14 Months”?! Maybe they had 1 year safety anniversary something..

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. Feb

    Yes, it sounds weird. I wonder if the journalist wrote it on purpose, or if the irony escaped him completely.

    In any case, what is ridiculous is not really the article, but the reality it describes. Today I was speaking with my Chinese colleague - the construction safety manager- about this, and he said:

    “well, it took the West many years of accidents before they achieved the present level of safety consciousness, so China also needs to take its time”.

    I thought this reasoning is faulty. China has shown that it is able to catch up with the West in so many technologies, it could do the same very quickly with safety. So “it is not a problem of time”, I said, “but of lack of the adequate policies from the government”

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. Feb
    xiao lu

    This high profitable industry mingled with money, power, greedy isn’t the time issue!!

    [Reply to this comment]

Leave a Comment

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. China Journal : Best of the China Blogs: February 23
  2. Best of the China Blogs: February 23 |
  3. Giving your Life for your Country | CHINAYOUREN