MAC: Mines and Communities

China Update

Published by MAC on 2006-12-07

China Update

7th December 2006

China Secretly Executes Man after Protest - Lawyer

PlaentArk CHINA

BEIJING - A court in southwestern China has secretly executed a man who took part in an environmental protest which turned into a riot, a lawyer and a family member said on Wednesday.

Three others were jailed, one of them for life, they said.

The four had been among thousands of people who took to the streets in Sichuan province in 2004 in anger over a hydropower project that would flood 100,000 people out of their homes.

Chen Tao, who was accused of "deliberately killing" a riot policeman during the protest, was executed, Cai Dengming, whose son was Chen's co-defendant, told Reuters.

"When I went to the Ya'an jail to visit my son this week, the officer there told me that Chen Tao had been executed," Cai said by telephone.

His son, Cai Zhao, was jailed for life in the same case. Ran Tong, Cai's defence lawyer, said he had only found out the verdict on Monday, when he received the sentence sheet containing the names and sentences of all the defendants.

"The court had sentenced them in June, but all behind closed doors, and we only got the information almost half a year later," Ran told Reuters by telephone.

"We were not able to defend our clients, and I strongly oppose the court not respecting the spirit of law," he said.

Two other protesters were sentenced to 12 and 15 years in jail, the lawyer said, citing the verdict. The Sichuan People's High Court was not immediately available for comment.

China is grappling with an acknowledged rise in social unrest, sparked by anger at a growing rich-poor divide, official corruption, pollution and land grabs without proper compensation in the countryside.

The country in 2004 had 74,000 "mass incidents" -- protests and riots in Communist jargon -- compared with 58,000 in 2003, Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang said last year.

In one of the most serious incidents in recent years, police and troops fired on protesters in Dongzhou in southern Guangdong province in a violent standoff over construction of a coal-fired power station. The government says three people died.


Australian Panel Approves Uranium Deal with China


7th December 2006

CANBERRA - Australia will sell uranium to China from next year after a parliamentary committee approved an export deal on Wednesday with a call for tighter international safeguards.

Australia, which holds 40 per cent of the world's recoverable uranium, reached agreement in April to begin exporting uranium to China in a deal that should double annual revenue from exports of the nuclear fuel to US$1 billion.

Lawmakers on the parliamentary treaty committee, who needed to approve the deal, concluded it was in Australia's national interest.

China is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, unlike India, which has tried, but so far failed, to win approval to buy Australian uranium.

"The safeguards agreement offers adequate assurance that China will use Australian uranium and technology for peaceful purposes only," committee chairman Andrew Southcott said.

China, with its huge population and buoyant economy, has a huge appetite for energy. It is banking on nuclear power to meet its needs and cut greenhouse emissions from fossil fuels.

Despite its huge reserves, Australia accounts for only 23 percent of global uranium production, in part because of mining bans associated with fears over of the safety of nuclear waste and proliferation.

The country currently exports uranium to 36 countries under strict conditions ensuring its peaceful use.

Another parliamentary report on Monday called for the government to drop restrictions on uranium mining, saying fears about its safety were misplaced.

Southcott's committee called for Australia to give more money and backing to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to strengthen on-site inspections in China.

Committee members also called for inspection of conversion plants where uranium is enriched to be declared mandatory by the IAEA and the five declared nuclear weapons powers -- Britain, the United States, China, France and Russia.

The deal with China will also pave the way for Australia to share civilian nuclear technology.


China safety boss pounds desk in anger at mine deaths

BEIJING (Reuters)

28th November 2006

China's top safety official shouted and pounded his desk in anger at mine owners and local officials for "utter disregard for workers' lives" after a string of deadly mining accidents, state media reported on Tuesday.

Li Yizhong, director of the State Administration of Work Safety, became incensed during a teleconference with officials on Monday, the China Daily said.

"How many lives do we have to lose before they learn from the lesson?" the paper quoted Li as shouting.

China has the world's deadliest coal mining industry with fatal accidents occurring almost daily as safety regulations are ignored and production is pushed beyond safe limits in the rush for profit.

A gas blast killed 24 coal miners in China's northern province of Shanxi, just a day after 55 died in two separate mining accidents, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

Li said that local officials should be held accountable for the surge in accidents, citing a gas explosion which killed 32 miners at Changyuan Coal Mine in Fuyuan county in southwestern Yunnan province on Saturday.

The administration had ordered the mine's closure, but local authorities allowed it to continue operating, and closed another small mine which they claimed was Changyuan.

"It is like a story in the 'Arabian Nights'," Li was quoted as saying. "It is like replacing a person on the death list with another."

Li pledged to get tough with coal mine operators that inflate output figures to bypass a closure order for China's myriad small and often unsafe mines, and promised "severe punishment" for officials and companies found covering up the true state of their mines.

"Don't let some unscrupulous coal mine owners kill more people in their last frenzy to make profit," Li said.


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