China’s top safety inspector calls for whistle-blowing

>BEIJING (AP) – China’s senior safety inspector urged the public and the media Tuesday to expose workplace accidents in a bid to end corruption and official misdeeds aggravating the country’s high rate of work deaths.

Li Yizhong, the head of the State Administration of Work Safety, said public whistle-blowing provides crucial clues for investigators often hobbled by cover-ups by local officials, especially on coal mine accidents.

“We welcome the public’s supervision. We welcome the reports made by people to expose corruption,” Li said at a news conference in which he appealed for help five times. “According to some tips, for example, we have found government officials who made unlawful investments in coal mines.”

Appeals for public and media intervention are an increasingly common tactic for the usually closed, authoritarian communist government as it tries to rein in local officials eager to protect industries and businesses flourishing under capitalist reforms.

“The central government finds it hard to get its orders carried out by local governments,” said Gao Chuanzhi, an expert on media with the China Institute of Industrial Relations, a school run by the state-backed labor trade union federation. “That’s why Li Yizhong hopes the media can help strengthen his powers of supervision.”

At his news conference, he released the results of investigations into five headline-grabbing accidents. Two of the accidents – a coal mine explosion that killed 28 miners and a bridge collapse in Hunan that killed 64 people – resulted from a series of lapses, from lax inspections to bribing officials to alter plans and safety checks, he said.