How the world has changed. Can you imagine this: China is letting the United Nations in to launch a project to improve safety for Chinese coal miners. Here are extracts from the Canadian Press report:
The United Nations launched a project Tuesday to improve safety for Chinese coal miners, who average 13 deaths a day [there are more than five million Chinese coal miners.]. The US$14.42 million plan will train and educate miners in five provinces where numerous fires, floods and other disasters strike mines every year despite repeated government promises to improve safety.
Khalid Malik, the UNDP’s representative in China, said the four-year project will focus on small-scale town and village mines, where the fatality rate is almost twice the national average, and set up pilot training centres for more than 1,000 miners and their families. In addition to safety training, new technologies will be taught for coal mine methane capture, UNDP said. “The government says 4,750 people died in coal mine accidents last year. In the last week there have been two accidents, with at least 15 miners dying when a mine flooded in Henan in central China, and 21 miners killed in an explosion in Shanxi in northern China. The UNDP project “provides a good opportunity for China to draw on international experience and best practices in advanced management concepts and methods for mine safety,” said Peng Jianxun, vice administrator of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety.
Much as I abhor poor mining practices that kill miners, I cannot but help wondering if there is not a lot more to this story than is reported. I mean: China calling in the United Nations to help out in a domestic situation? Almost as strange as Nixon dancing with Chairman Mao. I just do not believe it. Are blue berrets destined for Tianamen square?
Maybe the truth is hiding in the tiny statement “In addition to safety training, new technologies will be taught for coal mine methane capture.” Maybe this is a story about global warming. Is this the start of the long road that has to be travelled to reduce Chinese carbon emissions to reign in run-away temperatures?
Another strage and slightly horrifying thought. Is this the first step in the creation of an international task force to go to places where mining is done in violation of UN rules & regulations, and to enforce international standards of good mining conduct?
I cannot help but feel that there is something terribly wrong with the UN going in to teach mining health and safety. I thought the UN was there to make sure that the basic standards of human rights were met–you know, those boring old subjects like the rule of law, democracy, genocide, war, etc. I cannot see how the UN can become an insititution of first or last resort to teach tyrants how to keep from killing their surpressed peoples. Surely this is a case where the UN should not help the Chinese hid from the fact that the coal mines deaths are a result of the inequities and inequalities of the Chinese political system: the supression of the right to voice your opinion and elect your representatives results in more coal mine deaths than any absence of UN training courses. I submit that if the Chniese coal mine workers had a coal miners union, they would not need the UN any more than do US or Canadian coal miners.
I have read these links, but got no more elucidation from the flowery verbiage: