News & Current Affairs

September 13, 2008

Arrests’ after China landslide

Arrests’ after China landslide

Family members grieve for one of the victims on 12 September 2008

Devastated relatives are now burying their dead

More than a dozen mine officials have been arrested, Chinese state media have reported, after a landslide engulfed a village, killing at least 178 people.

The local Communist Party head has been sacked over Monday’s incident in Shanxi province, news agency Xinhua said.

Thousands of rescue workers are combing through the debris in Taoshi, in which hundreds more victims may be buried.

Frequent mining accidents in China are blamed on lax safety standards and ageing infrastructure.

More than 3,000 rescue workers are at the site, near the city of Linfen, recovering bodies from the debris with the help of 160 diggers, Xinhua reported.

But hopes of finding any more survivors are fading four days on from the accident. It is not known how many people are still missing.

Rescuers have already covered about 90% of the area, Xinhua said.

‘Grave accident’

Earlier in the week, government officials were quoted as saying hundreds of people could be dead, but they later denied such statements.

Thirteen officials from the Tashan Mining Co, which ran the illegal iron ore operation, have now been arrested, Xinhua reported.


In addition, the head of the local Communist Party and other senior local officials were dismissed, the agency said.

“It is the most grave accident that involves the largest death toll so far this year,” said Wang Jun, director of the State Administration of Work Safety.

“The rising accidents disclose local governments’ poor supervision on work safety. Those responsible must be dealt with seriously.”

The torrent of sludge buried the village of 1,000 people, including a market that was packed with people attending a fair, the China Daily newspaper reported.

Witnesses said that the mud appeared to be more than 20ft (6m) deep in some places.

State media said that the mining reservoir was decommissioned in the 1980s, but had recently been put back into use after a new owner took over the mine.

The mine’s safety certificate was revoked in 2006, it said.

Analysts say the disaster highlights China’s failure to enforce safety standards at its notoriously dangerous mines, and also the unsound state of many of its bridges, dams and other ageing infrastructure.

August 20, 2008

Mao’s successor Hua Guofeng dies

Mao’s successor Hua Guofeng dies

Hua Guofeng

Hua Guofeng succeeded Mao Zedong in 1976

Hua Guofeng, who succeeded Mao Zedong as chairman of China’s Communist Party, has died, state media is reporting.

Xinhua news agency said 87-year-old Hua died in the Chinese capital after suffering from an unspecified illness.

Hua took over as chairman after Mao’s death in 1976 and was in power at the end of the Cultural Revolution.

But Hua was himself quickly pushed aside by radical reformer Deng Xiaoping. His period as chairman ended formally in 1981.

However, unlike former leaders who were purged and exiled to remote villages, Hua remained in Beijing and on the party’s Central Committee.

Loyal lieutenant

“Because of an illness that could not be cured, Hua died on 20 August at 1250 in Beijing, at the age of 87,” the official Xinhua news agency said in a brief report.

Chairman Hua, left, in November 1976 with his deputy, Yeh Chien-ying

Chairman Hua (here, left, in late 1976) was soon pushed out by Deng Xiaoping

Born to a poor family in 1921, Hua became a guerrilla fighter aged 15 in Mao’s Communist movement in the civil war against Chiang Kai-shek’s ruling Nationalists.

After the 1949 revolution, he served in provincial government and party posts, reportedly catching Mao’s eye as early as 1954.

He was named to the Central Committee in 1969, and party secretary of Mao’s home province Hunan the following year. He later succeeded Zhou Enlai as prime minister, before becoming party chairman on Mao’s death.

Gang of Four

It was under Hua’s chairmanship that members of the so-called Gang of Four – including Mao’s widow Jiang Qing – were arrested.

They had been blamed for the excesses that accompanied the decade-long Cultural Revolution.

But whether Hua was instrumental in ordering their arrests is unclear.

Mao was said to have told Hua on his deathbed: “With you in charge my heart is at ease.”

But Deng Xiaoping was already manoeuvring to replace him, and Hua was effectively stripped of his powers in 1978, before formally losing the chairmanship in 1981.

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