Translated by CDT from Great Wall Online:
Li Yizhong (李毅中), the high profile coal mine safety chief of China, is known in the media as “China’s most exhausted senior official” and “the official who has erupted the most in anger,” mostly for trailing accidents across the country “putting out the fire.” Recently Li’s fellow comrade Gan Yisheng (干以胜), deputy secretary of the Central Discipline Committee, said of him in a twist of humor, “Minister Li is the most popular face in the media, but this not a good thing. Every time he is on the camera, it means something big has happened.” Nodding his head, Li concluded, “I’d better disappear.” (China Youth Daily)
Shanxi Province, the coal country and also home to the most mine accidents and fatalities, doesn’t want to see Li either, as some headlines have suggested. Still, Li is a frequent flyer there. Two years ago when there was a major accident, Li summed up the rolling deaths under the black ground on CCTV, “the bosses make green bucks, the farmers lose their sons, and the government has to become filial mourners.” The mourner he refers to includes himself, as he has toured the country’s most fatal grounds cleaning up the mess and making sure rescue and other efforts are done quickly.
The successive tally of mine accidents are a result of local officials pursuit of increased GDP, some of whom are directly involved in mine investments. There are laws that are in place to theoretically beef up safety procedures and prevent illegitimate political entanglement with the black-gold business, but things seem always to be going awry, despite continuous attention from Beijing.
The problem is, the laws are not adequately enforced. Only when the laws get put into practice, Li can have a chance to excuse himself from the spotlight, and take a break himself. [Full Text in Chinese]
Also, People Online posted a commentary that teases the firing of Linfen (临汾) mayor Li Tiantai (李天太), who made a speech after Dec. 5 mega coal mine accident at Hongdong County (洪洞县) that he was determined to stand up to the test of his job despite his guilty feelings about the fatalities. Li was later fired by his bosses in Shanxi Province, citing his responsibility in work safety in his city.