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Say no to blood-stained GDP, and change

2014-08-02 22:04 Xinhua Web Editor: Qin Dexing

A factory explosion on Saturday morning has once again revealed the biggest cost of the country's decades-long economic rise -- the loss of human lives.

The disaster befell a wheel hub polishing workshop operated by the Taiwanese-invested Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products Co., Ltd, Jiangsu Province. Initial investigations showed the accident might have been caused by flames igniting dust inside the workshop and suggested negligence behind it.

Facing the heavy casualties, 68 deaths and 187 injuries, the scandal-weary Chinese public may still want to know: Why do workplace accidents remain endemic even when the government vows to eliminate them all the time?

The problem is obvious. China never lacks rules, but they are poorly implemented; Companies always promise to protect workers, but many fail to keep their word; Officials pledge to enhance supervision, but too often they never take action.

The solution is simply to make law enforcers, supervisors and companies do their job to prevent such tragedies from happening again and again.

Technically, vigilance should be raised in summer when the heat and natural slackness of people might more easily lead to accidents. In addition, supervisors should treat all companies equally, regardless of reputation and size.

The tragedy has dealt a blow to Jiangsu, as its capital city Nanjing will host the Youth Olympic Games this month. Ironically, vice governor Shi Heping said in mid-July that thorough work safety inspections should be conducted ahead of the event.

In an article titled "We Have Zero Tolerance Toward Work Safety Accidents", which was posted on the website of the provincial government on July 18, Shi was quoted as saying that both public and secret investigations, as well as random checks should be done, and that supervision on 20 key industries be strengthened.

Kunshan, where the accident happened, tops China's Top 100 counties in terms of economic development.

Probes into past work safety cases showed local officials sometimes turn a blind eye to companies' illegal operations for either booming GDP growth figures or their own pocket.

Therefore, it is wise for the central government, which is waging an anti-graft campaign nationwide, to dig out corruption behind work safety failures.

What's more, the tragedies showed that while China is eagerly transforming its economy, many business owners and officials still need basic moral education including respect for human lives, and should stop treating industrial workers, toiling in mine pits and on production lines, as walking machines.

Not surprisingly company executives and officials will be held responsible and temporary overhauls launched -- which are routine following work safety accidents.

However, only long-term hardline actions can console the souls of victims of Saturday's explosion, who hurried to work early at dawn without leaving a word to their children who were still asleep.

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